Questions and Scales

Part of the AESS Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Sciences Series book series (AESS)


We will begin by exploring the relationship between science and the type of human-centric challenges confronted in the nexus of FEW systems. We will then explore the wide range of scales in space and time, which arise in FEW nexus studies. These scales are rooted in factors related to decision-making; natural, political, and cultural geography; ecological functioning; engineering and infrastructure; scientific practice and capabilities; economics; and other considerations such as social structure, politics, culture, demographics, and human aspirations. We review the questions and scales at which we need to measure, collect data, model, and carry out significant computational work on FEW systems. We will explore how communities of science are required for effective research, and communities of practice are required for the effective application of Nexus science to problem-solving in the real world.


Basic and applied research Use-inspired science Pasteur’s quadrant Micro-, meso, and macro scales Establishment-scale Interval-scale Process-scale Spatial and temporal scales Decision science Physical question vs. values questions 

Further Reading

  1. Asian Development Bank. (2013). Thinking about water differently: Managing the water, energy and food nexus. Philippines: Asian Development Bank.Google Scholar
  2. Boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical questions for big data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cambridge Econometrics (CE) and Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI). (2010). A scoping study on the macroeconomic view of sustainability. Final report for the European Commission, DG Environment.Google Scholar
  4. Flandrin, P. (1998). Time-frequency/time-scale analysis (Vol. 10). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Herod, A. (2003). Scale: The local and the global. In Key concepts in geography (Vol. 229, p. 234). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Liverman, D. (2004). Who governs, at what scale and at what price? Geography, environmental governance, and the commodification of nature. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94(4), 734–738.Google Scholar
  7. Marston, S. A., Jones, J. P., III, & Woodward, K. (2005). Human geography without scale. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 30(4), 416–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McCann, E. J. (2003). Framing space and time in the city: Urban policy and the politics of spatial and temporal scale. Journal of Urban Affairs, 25(2), 159–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McLaughlin, D., & Kinzelbach, W. (2015). Food security and sustainable resource management. Water Resources Research, 51, 4966–4985. Scholar
  10. Paasi, A. (2004). Place and region: Looking through the prism of scale. Progress in Human Geography, 28(4), 536–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Preston, B. L., King, A. W., Ernst, K. M., Absar, S. M., Nair, S. S., & Parish, E. S. (2014). Scale and the representation of human agency in the modeling of agroecosystems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 14, 239–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Schneider, D. C. (2001). The rise of the concept of scale in ecology: The concept of scale is evolving from verbal expression to quantitative expression. AIBS Bulletin, 51(7), 545–553.Google Scholar
  13. Stokes, D. (1997). Pasteur’s quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  14. Voinov, A., & Cardwell, H. (2009). The energy-water nexus: Why should we care? Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, 143, 17–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Zaheer, S., Albert, S., & Zaheer, A. (1999). Time scales and organizational theory. Academy of Management Review, 24(4), 725–741.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Engineering & Earth SciencesClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.Engineering and Data SciencesCargill Inc.WayzataUSA
  3. 3.Energy InstituteThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and Global Water TeamUniversity of Maryland and The Nature ConservancyCollege ParkUSA
  5. 5.School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber SystemsNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  6. 6.Energy Policy and Climate, Advanced Academic Programs, Krieger School of Arts and SciencesJohns Hopkins UniversityWashingtonUSA
  7. 7.Computer Science & Engineering, College of Science & EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations