Visualizing water-energy nexus landscapes

Douglas Robb, Harrison Cole, Jennifer Baka, Karen Bakker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, the water-energy nexus (WEN) has emerged as a prominent framework with which to analyze and visualize interconnections between energy production, freshwater resources, and the hydrological cycle. The WEN is a fundamentally geographic concept embedded in landscapes. WEN analyses often include landscape visualizations, yet these are rarely conceptually rigorous; consequently, the visual-representational dimensions of WEN analyses remain relatively weak. Our paper addresses this gap through a meta-review of 503 WEN visualizations sourced from 336 scholarly articles. Based on this analysis, we argue that WEN visualizations often depict complex landscapes as technical systems, while eliding broader considerations of the multiscalar, spatiotemporal, and hydrosocial dimensions of water and energy. In response to these limitations, we offer an alternative approach to visualizing hydrosocial landscapes that draws upon parallel work in geography and cognate disciplines. In the concluding section of the paper, we formulate a set of interdisciplinary recommendations to guide the production of more theoretically-informed nexus visualizations grounded in the concepts of spatiality, temporality, and hydrosociality. The article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Human Water > Methods Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Engineering Water > Methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1548
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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