Environmental and Natural Resource Management

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The use and conservation of natural resources such as water, land, soil, plants, and animals affects a multitude of industries, from agriculture and mining to tourism, fishing, and forestry. RAND researchers concerned about ecosystems and sustainability pursue studies in flooding, nuclear energy, drought, coastal restoration, and more in their quest to mitigate the potential adverse effects of mismanagement.

Explore Environmental and Natural Resource Management

  • Five glasses of water, with dirty water in the center, photo by hdere/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How to Ensure Quality Drinking Water Service for All? One Option Is Fewer Utilities.

    California's Human Right to Water Bill declares that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water.” One clear barrier to reaching this target is the sheer number of small water utilities that pose service sustainability and public health risks to their customers.

    Mar 26, 2019

  • Tool

    Tool

    Chesapeake Bay Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook: Winter 2018-2019: Seasonal Precipitation Analysis

    This web-based tool aims to inform Chesapeake Bay Watershed policymakers, practitioners, and community leaders on historical and projected future climate trends. Analysis of seasonal precipitation data are displayed via interactive maps.

    Mar 25, 2019

  • Department of Water and Power employees assess the damage from a broken 30-inch water main on Sunset Boulevard, next to the UCLA campus in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, July 30, 2014, photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Water Systems Can Learn From Smart Electric Grids

    As drought and population growth place increasing pressure on water supply, the need to save and efficiently manage Southern California's water resources becomes increasingly critical. A single information and communication technology platform could go a long way toward moving water utilities from reactive to proactive maintenance practices.

    Mar 22, 2019

  • Oil barrel leaking oil grass, photo by RuslanDashinsky/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Increasing Groundwater Reliance in L.A. County Means Dealing with Extensive Contamination

    As the Los Angeles region increases its reliance on groundwater sources to become more resilient in the face of drought and to reduce demand for imported water sources, advances in the information available on groundwater quality and contamination could help community water systems avoid health hazards and better ensure a safe drinking water supply.

    Mar 12, 2019

  • A screen capture from the Decision Support Tool for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Levee Investment Strategy

    Tool

    Decision Support Tool for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Levee Investment Strategy

    The Delta Stewardship Council commissioned the development of a risk modeling framework and decision support tool (DST) to aid in the formulation of a Delta Levees Investment Strategy.

    Mar 7, 2019

  • An aerial view of the San Francisco Bay delta, photo by Andrei / Adobe Stock

    Report

    Decision Support Tool for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Levees Investment Strategy

    The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta faces complex and varied flood risks. Possible investments to mitigate these risks are numerous, and they will affect Delta risks differently. The decision support tool aided the Delta Stewardship Council in developing a Delta Levees Investment Strategy.

    Mar 7, 2019

  • Skyline of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, illustration by Malte Muller

    Essay

    Resilience and Adaptation Strategies Can Address the Impacts of Climate Change

    With climate change already generating storms, heat waves, and droughts beyond historical norms, local governments need to do more to prepare. A decisionmaking framework developed by RAND allows communities to stress-test ideas, weigh the trade-offs, and plan for a range of possible futures.

    Feb 26, 2019

  • Aswan High Dam, photo by Cliff Hellis/Flickr

    Journal Article

    Resilience of the Eastern African Electricity Sector to Climate Driven Changes in Hydropower Generation

    This study developed a framework consisting of long-term models for electricity supply and water systems management, to assess the vulnerability of potential electricity infrastructure expansion plans to the effects of climate change in Africa.

    Jan 29, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Tradeoff Between Water and Carbon Footprints of Barnett Shale Gas

    This study takes an in-depth look at the energy water nexus in the context of hydraulic fracturing in a drought prone and natural gas rich region of Texas.

    Jan 4, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Sensitivity of Probable Maximum Flood in a Changing Environment

    This study uses integrated hydrometeorological simulations over the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) River Basin in the southeastern United States to understand the impact of climate change on probable maximum precipitation.

    Jan 4, 2019

  • A crew works to repair a road destroyed by flooding on May 31, 2018 in Ellicott City, Maryland. On May 27 Ellicott City experienced a devastating flood for the second time in two years.

    Tool

    Chesapeake Bay Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook for 2018: Extreme Precipitation Analysis

    This web-based tool aims to inform Chesapeake Bay Watershed policymakers, practitioners, and community leaders on historical and projected future climate trends. Analysis of seasonal and extreme precipitation data are displayed via interactive maps.

    Nov 27, 2018

  • Melting icebergs by the coast of Greenland

    Report

    Deep Decarbonization as a Risk Management Challenge

    Deep decarbonization is the idea of reducing net human greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the 21st century. There are three concepts that help explain the full scope of deep decarbonization as a risk management challenge.

    Oct 22, 2018

  • A Palestinian woman drags a cart loaded with water containers after filling them from a public tap in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, February 28, 2017

    Report

    How to Solve the Water Crisis in Gaza

    Gaza has long had water and sanitation challenges, but today it's in a state of emergency. The crisis could be resolved through greater investment in water and power infrastructure as well as more water or electricity purchases. But political complications and other barriers remain.

    Sep 26, 2018

  • Ducklings and a swan gather on a sandbank in the Jamaica Bay neighborhood of New York City

    Report

    Building Resilience in an Urban Coastal Environment

    What are the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise on flood risk, ecosystems, and water quality in New York City's Jamaica Bay? How can flood risk be reduced while also improving water quality, restoring habitat, and improving resilience to extreme weather events?

    Jul 31, 2018

  • Aerial view of Miami, Florida

    Report

    Adapting to a Changing Climate in Southeast Florida

    Florida's Miami-Dade and Broward counties are vulnerable to flooding and intrusion of saltwater into drinking water. These risks are driven by sea level rise, changes in precipitation, and urban development. How can the region adapt?

    Jun 6, 2018

  • Water tank in M'bwetu Village, Malawai

    Journal Article

    Examining the Food-Energy-Water and Conflict Nexus

    This article provides an in-depth review of the interactions between insecurity and conflict within the component sectors of the FEW nexus.

    Jan 30, 2018

  • The Colorado Aqueduct near the Iron Mountain Pumping Plant in Earp, California, April 16, 2015

    Commentary

    How Federal Policy Could Help Water and Wastewater Utilities

    A targeted approach could help the federal government address the root causes of infrastructure problems more effectively than a spending initiative that simply spreads money around with the hope that more spending might do some good.

    Jan 16, 2018

  • People walk alongside the Tujunga Wash urban stream in Los Angeles

    Journal Article

    A Climate Stress Test of Los Angeles' Water Quality Plans

    Overall, this study suggests that climate change and land use can significantly affect TMDL implementation plans; identifies how one such plan might be modified to address the resulting vulnerabilities; and demonstrates how robust decision making methods, employed with existing simulation models, may be able to generate legally acceptable plans that are robust and flexible in the face of climate and other uncertainties.

    Sep 20, 2017

  • Residential apartments next to the dried-up Ratanpura lake on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India May 9, 2016

    Commentary

    Another Casualty of Climate Change: Peace

    The connection between human conflict and climate change is no mere coincidence. Drought, temperature and tensions rise in tandem, with the implicit threat of violent conflict not far behind.

    Aug 15, 2017

  • Louisiana marsh scene, north shore of Lake Pontchartrain

    Journal Article

    Economic Evaluation of Coastal Land Loss in Louisiana

    Louisiana has lost approximately 1,880 square miles of land over the past 80 years. Projections suggest that in a future without action, the next 50 years could result in the loss of 1,750 additional square miles of land area.

    Jul 19, 2017