Telecoupled water flows – A multi-scalar analysis of the effects of food production crises on water resources and their management

PhD Project

The sustainable and equitable management of the world’s unequally distributed water resources represents one of the major challenges in the coming decades. However, pressures on water resources increase due to a rapidly expanding population, unsustainable consumption patterns, climate change impacts but also the growing interconnectedness of global systems. Distant human-nature interactions – telecouplings – create a situation where water resources cannot be considered entirely local resources anymore but have global scope.

The aim of the project is to better understand these water-related telecouplings, especially focusing on virtual water flows of agricultural products. Thereby, the project tries to disentangle the relationships between water scarcity, agricultural production, and food system resilience posing questions such as:

  • How did virtual water content patterns change in the last decades?
  • Which cascading socio-hydrological risks does agricultural water scarcity pose to virtual water export regions but also virtual water import regions?

By following a multiscale approach combining the global scale with specific focus regions and building on a mixed-method approach, the project aims to address insights from multiple perspectives at different spatial scales on telecoupled water risks.

The project is funded by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.