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The overarching theme of Porkka’s research is to better understand the various roles of freshwater in the larger Earth system and well-being of societies, and how human modifications of the water cycle impact the two. Her postdoc project at the SRC explores the social-ecological resilience of drylands to changes in rainfall patterns. Currently, her particular focus is on the Sahel, where rainfed agriculture is the main source of food and income for the growing rural population and food security is therefore highly sensitive to precipitation.
In her research, Porkka explores how hydroclimatic characteristics, such as droughts and dry spells, impact rainfed agriculture and societies that depend on it, and whether hydroclimatic changes can cause or contribute to shifts in these societies.
Porkka obtained her doctorate in December 2016 with the Water and Development Research Group at Aalto University, Finland. Her dissertation explored the implications of water scarcity and agricultural trade for global food availability in the 20th century. During her doctoral research she was also involved in a number of other projects and collaborations on global food and water issues, including studies on water scarcity, environmental footprints of food waste and diets, mapping of global irrigation areas and the water-energy-food nexus. Porkka continues to work with sustainability of food systems and food-water interactions through her collaborations within and outside the SRC.