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Synthesis manuscript for an Ecology & Society Special Feature on Telecoupling: A New Frontier for Global Sustainability

Esther Parish, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory , Anna Herzeberger, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University , Colin Phifer, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University , Virginia Dale, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.

Agricultural activities have dramatically altered our planet?s land surface. To understand the extent and spatial distribution of these changes, we have developed a new global data set of croplands and pastures circa 2000 by combining agricultural inventory data and satellite-derived land cover data. The agricultural inventory data, with much greater spatial detail than previously available, is used to train a land cover classification data set obtained by merging two different satellite-derived products (Boston University?s MODIS-derived land cover product and the GLC2000 data set).

Ramankutty, Navin

Growing concern about climate change and energy security has led to increasing interest in developing renewable, domestic energy sources for meeting electricity, heating and fuel needs in the United States. Illinois has significant potential to produce bioenergy crops, including corn, soybeans, miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). However, land requirements for bioenergy crops place them in competition with more traditional agricultural uses, in particular food production.

Scheffran, Jurgen

Land-use change models are important tools for integrated environmental management. Through scenario analysis they can help to identify near-future critical locations in the face of environmental change. A dynamic, spatially explicit, land-use change model is presented for the regional scale: CLUE-S. The model is specifically developed for the analysis of land use in small regions (e.g., a watershed or province) at a fine spatial resolution.


The U.S. biomass resource can be used several ways that provide domestic, renewable energy to users. Understanding the capacity of the biomass resource, its potential in energy markets, and the most economic utilization of biomass is important in policy development and project selection. This study analyzed the potential for biomass within markets and the competition between them.


Interest in using biomass feedstocks to produce power, liquid fuels, and chemicals in the U.S. is increasing. Central to determining the potential for these industries to develop is an understanding of the location, quantities, and prices of biomass resources. This paper describes the methodology used to estimate biomass quantities and prices for each state in the continental U.S. An Excel™ spreadsheet contains estimates of biomass quantities potentially available in five categories: mill wastes, urban wastes, forest residues, agricultural residues and energy crops.

The IPCC SRREN report addresses information needs of policymakers, the private sector and civil society on the potential of renewable energy sources for the mitigation of climate change, providing a comprehensive assessment of renewable energy technologies and related policy and financial instruments. The IPCC report was a multinational collaboration and synthesis of peer reviewed information: Reviewed, analyzed, coordinated, and integrated current high quality information.

Traffic flows in the U.S. have been affected by the substantial increase and, as of January 2009, decrease in biofuel production and use. This paper considers a framework to study the effect on grain transportation flows of the 2005 Energy Act and subsequent legislation, which mandated higher production levels of biofuels, e.g. ethanol and biodiesels. Future research will incorporate changes due to the recent economic slowdown.

Ahmedov, Zarabek

Agricultural markets often feature significant transport costs and spatially distributed production and processing which causes spatial imperfect competition. Spatial economics considers the firms’ decisions regarding location and spatial price strategy separately, usually on the demand side, and under restrictive assumptions. Therefore, alternative approaches are needed to explain, e.g., the location of new ethanol plants in the U.S. at peripheral as well as at central locations and the observation of different spatial price strategies in the market.

Graubner, Marten

One of the major objectives of the current expansion in bioenergy cropping is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions for environmental benefit. The cultivation of bioenergy and biofuel crops also affects biodiversity more directly, both positively and negatively.

Les G. Firbank

When fuelwood is harvested at a rate exceeding natural growth and inefficient conversion technologies are used, negative environmental and socio-economic impacts, such as fuelwood shortages, natural forests degradation and net GHG emissions arise. In this study, we argue that analyzing fuelwood supply/demand spatial patterns require multiscale approaches to effectively bridge the gap between national results with local situations.


This paper describes a methodology to explore the (future) spatial distribution of biofuel crops in Europe. Two main types of biofuel crops are distinguished: biofuel crops used for the production of biodiesel or bioethanol, and second-generation biofuel crops. A multiscale, multi-model approach is used in which biofuel crops are allocated over the period 2000?2030. The area of biofuel crops at the national level is determined by a macroeconomic model. A spatially explicit land use model is used to allocate the biofuel crops within the countries.