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Network Analysis of Global Virtual Water Trade

Speaker: Megan Konar, Graduate Student
Series: EEWR Brown Bag Seminars
Location: Engineering Quad E219
Date/Time: Friday, October 29, 2010, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.


The virtual water trade has received much attention in recent years as a potential mechanism for decreasing regional water scarcity and leading to a global water savings. Here we study the structure of the network representing the virtual water flows associated with the international food trade. We use a directed and weighted network representation in which the nodes correspond to nations and the links correspond to the volume of virtual water traded between nations. We characterize quantitatively both the weighted and directed properties of this network. We find that the node degree distribution follows an exponential distribution, except for the case of import links, while the strength distribution is fit by a stretched exponential distribution. There is a power-law relationship between the volume of virtual water traded and the number of trade connections. Nations that play a critical role in maintaining the global network architecture are highlighted. This network analysis is useful for a variety of applications, ranging from climate change impact evaluations to network optimization.