SOLUTIONSCAPES: designing climate and water smart agricultural solutions in complex working landscapes

It is increasingly understood that Nature-based Climate Solutions (NCS) can make a substantial contribution toward achieving Canada’s net-zero emission goals. Most studies of NCS, however, focus only on climate outcomes, despite the fact that these solutions can provide a range of other ecosystem services, including water purification, improved soil quality, and biodiversity provision. The proposed project takes a synergistic approach, bringing together multiple bioenergy (manure to biogas) and nature-based approaches (e.g., cover crops, wetland restoration) in agricultural landscapes and quantifying not just outcomes for carbon, but also effects on water quality, food-provisioning, and a range of other ecosystem services. As part of this analysis, the team will prioritize the creation of  “solutionscape” portfolios, which include multiple, spatially targeted solution strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon while enhancing ecosystem service outcomes.

In its quest to achieve net-zero emissions, Canada is investing in agricultural climate solutions at an unprecedented level. While the development of such solutions is not new, they have mostly focused on a single problem of interest, at a single scale, without adequate consideration of social and environmental tradeoffs. The SOLUTIONSCAPES project will enable us to develop pan-Canadian, spatially explicit solution portfolios that will move Canada towards a net-zero GHG future while also prioritizing water quality and other ecosystem service outcomes.

Nandita Basu

Waterloo Climate Institute member contributions

Nandita Basu is the principal investigator of SOLUTIONSCAPES and Juan Moreno Cruz, Dustin Garrick, Bryan Tolson, and Rebecca Saari are co-investigators. These members are part of a wider team spearheading this important work thanks to Environment and Climate Change Canada's Climate Action and Awareness Fund (CAAF). This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada. 

Nandita Basu

Nandita Basu

Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Earth and Environmental Sciences; University Research Chair

Nandita Basu studies the role humans play in modifying water availability and quality through changing land use and climate, providing innovative solutions to water sustainability challenges. Her research interests include contaminant fate and transport, watershed biogeochemistry and land use change, environmental and ecosystem hydrology, ecosystem (including wetland) restoration, human impacts on the environment, and water resource sustainability.

Juan Moreno-Cruz
Dustin Garrick

Dustin Garrick

Associate Professor, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability; University Research Chair

Dustin Garrick has expertise in water and environmental governance with a focus on property rights, institutions and markets. He has twenty years of experience in environmental management with a focus on markets and governance innovations to address resource scarcity and sustainability challenges. 

Bryan Tolson

Bryan Tolson

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Bryan Tolson's research interests include hydrologic model calibration, hydrology, water resources planning and management, environmental and water resources, environmental simulation model development, environmental decision-making, parallel computing, multi-objective optimization, and soft computing.

Rebecca Saari

Rebecca Saari

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Rebecca Saari's focuses are air pollution, greenhouse gases, and trade; air quality impacts and benefits under energy and climate policy; health impacts of air pollution under future climate; environmental inequality; pollution and policy impacts by income group; and integrated economic, health impact, and air quality modeling.

UWaterloo co-investigators

Anita Layton

Anita Layton is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine and Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy and Biology at the University of Waterloo, and leads a diverse and interdisciplinary team of researchers using computational modeling tools to better understand aspects of health ad disease. Using mathematics as a microscope, Anita’s group collaborates with physiologists, biomedical engineers and clinicians to formulate detailed models of cellular and organ function. Using model simulations and predictions, the group answers questions regarding differences in drug responses between sexes and how the timing of medication dosage impacts interactions, effectiveness and the body’s circadian rhythms

Tonya DelSontro

Tonya DelSontro is an Assistant Professor in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Tonya’s research focus is to advance our understanding of how human activities and climate change alter aquatic greenhouse gas budgets and thus the climatic impact of our inland waters. She integrates field-based system analyses and experimental laboratory work to define and predict anthropogenic impacts on aquatic greenhouse dynamics from local and regional to global scale

Nancy Goucher

Nancy Goucher is the Knowledge Mobilization Specialist at the University of Waterloo’s Water Institute. In her role, she ensures water research produced at the university is actively used and contributes to water management solutions in Canada and abroad. Previous to the University of Waterloo, Nancy worked for 10+ years to shape water policy conversations across Canada, particularly in the Great Lakes. Nancy has previously held positions at Freshwater Future, Environmental Defence and the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW). She graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Master’s degree in Planning in 2007. Her research focused on the identification of facilitating conditions for creating new knowledge and adapting to change in watershed-based organizations.

External academic partners

  • Elena Bennett: McGill University
  • Navin Ramankutty: University of British Columbia
  • Helen Baulch: University of Saskatchewan
  • Claudia Wagner Riddle: University of Guelph
  • Philip Loring: University of Guelph
  • Kate Congreves: University of Saskatchewan
  • Kim Van Meter: Penn State University