The goal of our research is to improve our understanding of human-hydrologic systems so that they can be managed sustainably. The findings of this research will provide insight for planning and adapting the design and operation of water resource systems for a future of change.
Our research approach is broadly characterized as systems analysis, employing a systems framework informed by hydroclimate science with a primary application to human-hydrologic systems. This approach is applied in the following current focus areas.
Climate Risk Assessment and Management in Infrastructure Systems
There is widespread and well-warranted concern that society is ill-equipped to manage the risks that climate poses, especially in developing countries. Human-hydrologic systems and water infrastructure are particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change. How should we quantify the risks of climate change to hydrologic systems and infrastructure? Can we design our water infrastructure to be adaptive to changing climate conditions and resilient to climate surprises? Can we apply innovations in hydroclimatologic monitoring and forecasting, and information and communication technology (ICT) to manage the residual risks that infrastructure cannot?
Decision Making and Risk
Advances in hydrologic and climate monitoring and forecasting provides decision makers with unprecedented information upon which decisions can be based. However, the information is often unfamiliar to decision makers in source and formation and also accompanied by uncertainty. Traditional decision systems were not designed to accommodate the new sources of information. Therefore, there is typically a large gap between the potential benefits of scientific advances in hydrological and climate sciences and what is actually achieved. We have developed a process called decision scaling which is designed to tailor hydrologic and climate information so that it suits the needs of decision makers. This is a starting point for managing the risks associated climate variability and change and toward the adoption of innovations to improve their uptake in human-hydrologic systems.
Sustainability in Human-Hydrologic Systems
Our goal is to understand and characterize human-hydrologic systems and how they respond to climate, demographic, land use and institutional change. This area of research is also called hydromorphology. The understanding produced through this scientific analysis is used to model the response of human-hydrologic systems to possible interventions for sustainability, whether policy or physically-based. The approach is inherently multi-disciplinary and our research group actively seeks collaboration with similarly interested individuals.