Publications and Presentations

Publications and Presentations

Climate model uncertainty in impact assessments for agriculture: Amulti-ensemble case study on maize in sub-Saharan Africa

In March 2017, J-WAFS’ Seed Grantees Susan Solomon, in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and Department of Chemistry, Kenneth Strzepek from MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and others report that, if the world’s average temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, much of southern Africa and the Sahel region just south of the Sahara desert — regions that contribute a significant portion of Africa’s maize production — will experience increased aridity, which in turn is predicted to decrease maize crop yields in some nations by over 20 percent.

“[Maize] is a relatively drought-sensitive crop in a region where agricultural production is mostly rainfed,” says lead author Amy Dale, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). “If under climate change we have changes in temperature and precipitation, this is arguably one of the worst areas of the world where we’re going to see really negative impacts on crop production and malnourished populations.” The researchers’ analysis also shows that climate change’s impact is less certain for the most arid regions of sub-Saharan Africa including the semiarid regions that produce over 40 percent of sub-Saharan African maize. Click here to read the article...

Corn in parched soil

J-WAFS: How smart investment is forging answers to one of mankind’s biggest challenges

In a Spring 2017 article in Opening Doors, the online magazine of Abdul Latif Jameel, J-WAFS’ director John Lienhard outlines the challenges in food and water security posed by population growth and climate change in the coming years. The article focuses specifically on how the Middle East could be impacted, and calls for energy efficient and sustainable regionally-specific solutions. Leinhard highlights ways that J-WAFS is contributing to this work, featuring three recent Seed and Solutions grant projects that could provide valuable support to the water and food-related issues facing the Middle East: Prof. Gang Chen’s solar-powered desalination still; Prof. Colette Heald’s data modeling that analyzes the effect of particulate matter air pollution on global crop yields, and Prof. Michael Strano’s food contaminant detection sensor.

The article also describes how MIT, through J-WAFS, is leading the global conversation on water scarcity and food security, highlighting both a recent expert workshop on desalination produced with the Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance (GCWDA) and a new Research Affiliate agreement Xylem Inc., a global water technology company with operations in more than 150 countries. Click here to read the article...

Hands washing in water

Developments in the potential of anion-selective redox electrodes for electrochemically mediated separation

Alan Hatton and his team discuss exciting developments in their research on anion-selective redox electrodes, exploring the potential for redox species to assist in catalysis, energy storage, and molecular recognition. This paper claims that their organometallic redox electrodes are a promising platform for targeting aqueous and organic systems requiring high separation factors and fast throughput, such as in the recovery of value-added products from organic synthesis and isolation of dilute yet highly toxic organic contaminants.

This research is part of their larger J-WAFS funded project, seeking to develop and implement a new strategy for wastewater treatment using electrochemically-modulated separation processes (EMS). These processes would be cost-efficient and easily scalable, relying on very little electrical power or high pressure operations. To learn more about their J-WAFS funded project, click here.

IdeasLab 2015 panel

Davos IdeasLab 2015 panel led by J-WAFS Director John Lienhard

J-WAFS Director John Lienhard, along with MIT faculty colleagues, traveled to Davos, Switzerland in January for the 2015 World Economic Forum (WEF). The four-day meeting, which traditionally hosts a variety of world leaders in business, policy and academia, has featured a panel of MIT representatives for the past several years. This year, the theme was titled “Tackling Food and Water Challenges with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” John Lienhard’s presentation along with those of the other faculty members can be found here.
Photo: MIT faculty members Alan Berger, Karen Gleason, Colette Heald, and John Lienhard at Davos IdeasLab 2015

IdeasLab 2015 panel

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Workshop Report

On November 13-14, 2014, J-WAFS convened a workshop of the international, non-partisan Eastern Nile Working Group to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and its implications for regional cooperation and economic development in the Nile basin. On the basis of these discussions, the group prepared an Amicus Brief to the three riparian governments, which was shared with them in early February 2015. The brief, titled The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: An Opportunity for Collaboration and Shared Benefits in the Eastern Nile Basin, highlights opportunities and also several issues of technical concern which are of relevance to policy makers in the region.


Ethiopian dam map