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Title page for ETD etd-07312017-201213

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Gunda, Thushara
Author's Email Address tgunda@gmail.com
URN etd-07312017-201213
Title The Water-Food Nexus: A Data-driven, Interdisciplinary Approach to Inform Decision Making in Sri Lanka
Degree PhD
Department Environmental Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
George Hornberger Committee Chair
David Furbish Committee Member
Eugene LeBoeuf Committee Member
Jonathan Gilligan Committee Member
  • adaptation
  • sri lanka
  • interdisciplinary
  • agriculture
  • climate change
  • water
Date of Defense 2017-04-10
Availability unrestricted
Water is an important resource for various societal needs, with agriculture accounting for 70% of global freshwater withdrawals and 90% of global water consumption. Due to increasing constraints from climate change (among other factors), improved and efficient management of current resources will be critical to continued growth. Given that agriculture production is embedded in a coupled natural and human system, sustainable management analysis of water-related decision making requires incorporation of economic and psychological factors in addition to natural resource factors. Using Sri Lanka as a case study, this dissertation research combines physical insights with social knowledge about crop cultivation to inform assessments of climate change adaptations. Specifically, we characterized spatiotemporal patterns of agricultural drought in the country over the last 130 years, identified the value of shifting the planting date for rice (the staple food of the country), and evaluated the use of seasonal weather forecasts to guide farmer crop selections. Our analysis highlights that while policies and programs that promote production of certain crops may ensure food security in the short-term, the long-term implications of these dynamics need careful evaluation.
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