2019-20 Global Change Fellow
Statement of purpose:
I am a third year Ph.D. student working in the Biosystems Analytics laboratory of Dr. Natalie Nelson in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department at NC State University. Prior to starting my Ph.D. at NC State, I obtained my M.S. in Water Science and Engineering at Polytech Montpellier in France. I also did several internships in consulting and research laboratories to gain more experience in flood prevention, hydraulic modeling, and environmental risk. At the same time, I had the chance to travel to different countries and had the opportunity to interact with local communities. Some of them are facing dramatic changes in their environment (e.g., sea level rise, algal blooms, erosion) since the last few decades and felt unempowered. Although I was aware about climate and land use change, these interactions made me realized that the changes are happening now and have already affected the lives of people. These various experiences powered my passion for pursuing my career in research. Currently, I am investigating how climate and land use change impact the environment and the local communities that rely on natural resources to thrive.
Description of research:
I am using interdisciplinary and holistic approaches to investigate how land use and climate change impact water quality and hydrology processes in the southeastern United States’ coastal watersheds. I am working on two complementary projects that will contribute to our understanding of the effects of local and global change on coastal water quality and aim to inform policy and decision-making at local and regional scales.
One of these projects consists of developing quantitative methods to predict estuarine vulnerability hotspots as a function of local and global change across the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico coasts. I am adapting at large scale an existing lumped water quality model to assess future coastal nutrient loads (e.g., N and P) by 2050 using climate model and land use projections. Results should highlight which estuarine systems are at higher risk of water quality degradation in a near future. I hope the findings produced from my research will inform decision-making by practitioners, policymakers, and conservation planners, in turn supporting the long-term sustainability of estuarine resources.
My second project consists of reconstructing the geospatial growth of swine waste lagoons since 1985 in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina using satellite imagery. This region is home to communities that experience relatively high social vulnerability and hence are more at risk of adverse effects from climate (e.g., sea level rise, increase in hurricane intensity). I will use the newly created dataset to analyze if connections, or lack thereof, exist between historical water quality trends and swine waste lagoon densities. The long-term analysis of the relationships between swine waste lagoon densities and water quality aims to improve understanding of the long-term impact this form of land use change and land use management has had on the environment in the last decades. This research aligns with DOI Priorities 1. Creating a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt.
Nelson, N. G., Montefiore, L., Anthony, C., Merriman, L., Kuster, E., & Fox, G. A. (2019). Undergraduate Perceptions of Climate Education Exposure in Natural Resources Management. Transactions of the ASABE, 62(3), 831-839.