AGU Hydrology Day Award

Dr. Bridget R. Scanlon

Senior Research Scientist – Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin

Lecture Title: Global to Local Water Resource Assessments: Implications for Management

Date: Thursday March 28, 2019

Time: 1:00 – 2:00pm

Location: North Ballroom (CSU Lory Student Center)

Bridget Scanlon is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin. Her degrees are in Geology with a focus on hydrogeology with a B.A. Mod. from Trinity College, Dublin (1980); M.Sc. from the Univ. of Alabama (1983), and Ph.D. from the Univ. of Kentucky (1985). She has worked at the Univ. of Texas since 1987. Her current research focuses on various aspects of water resources, including global assessments using satellites and modeling, management related to climate extremes, and water energy interdependence. She serves an Associate Editor for Water Resources Research and Environmental Research Letters and has authored ~ or co-authored ~100 publications. Dr. Scanlon is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Abstract: Managing water resources is becoming increasingly challenging within the context of climate extremes and change. Our studies look at trends in water storage using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites and modeling ranging from global to local scales. We evaluate the reliability of global models by comparing modeled land water storage (snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater) trends to storage trends from (GRACE) satellites.  Likened to giant weighing scales in the sky, GRACE satellites have monitored monthly changes in land water storage globally since their launch in 2002. The satellites show that global land water storage, summed over 186 river basins, increased over the past decade, although models show decreasing global water storage. This suggests opposing contributions to global mean sea level, with GRACE indicating a negative contribution to sea level and models indicating a positive contribution.

While there is considerable interest in global scale analyses, water management generally occurs at the river basin scale, with models underestimating large decadal (2002–2014) trends in water storage relative to GRACE satellites. Comparing models with GRACE highlights potential areas of future model development, particularly simulated water storage. The inability of models to capture large decadal water storage trends based on GRACE indicates that model projections of climate and human induced water storage changes may be underestimated. The implications for management will be discussed using the Colorado River Basin as an example. This basin has been subjected to long-term drought. Transfer of water from the Colorado River to depleted aquifers using managed aquifer recharge has stabilized groundwater levels and stopped subsidence. However, such transfers may not be feasible in the future with continued drought and implications for water resource management will need to be considered.  The expansion of tools to assess and manage water resources should provide a more in depth understanding of controls on water resources and increase the portfolio of management options to enhance resilience of water resources within the context of climate extremes.

Borland Hydraulics Lecture

Dr. Fotis Sotiropoulos

Dean – College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Stony Brook University

Lecture Title: Hydraulic Engineering in the Era of Big Data & Extreme-Scale Computing

Date: Wednesday March 27, 2019

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Location: North Ballroom (CSU Lory Student Center)

Fotis Sotiropoulos serves as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) and State University of New York (SUNY) Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering at Stony Brook University (SBU), since October 2015. Prior to joining SBU Dr. Sotiropoulos was the James L. Record Professor of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering, and Director of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2006-2015). Prior to that, Dr. Sotiropoulos was on the faculty of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with a joint appointment in the G. W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering (1995-2005).

His research focuses on simulation-based fluid mechanics in energy, environment, biology & health. Sotiropoulos has made seminal contributions in environmental fluid mechanics, including sediment transport and scour, stream and river restoration, and river flooding risk assessment and mitigation, wind and marine and hydrokinetic energy systems, cardiovascular fluid mechanics, and aquatic swimming. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, the Sandia National Laboratories, private industry, and other state and federal agencies, he has raised over $35 million for research and research facility development and renovation. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Physical Society (APS), twice winner of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Gallery of Fluid Motion award, and a recipient of the Hunter-Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Sotiropoulos has authored over 200 peer reviewed journal papers and book chapters and his research results have been featured on the cover of several prestigious journals.

Abstract: Recent advances in computational algorithms coupled with exponentially growing computing power pave the way for developing a powerful simulation-based engineering science framework for tackling a broad range of real-life hydraulic engineering flows.  Multi-physics simulations taking into account complex waterway bathymetry, energetic coherent structures, turbulence/sediment interactions and morphodynamics, free-surface effects and flow structure interaction phenomena are now well within reach and are beginning to impact engineering practice.  I will review such progress and offer specific examples highlighting the enormous potential of simulation-based engineering science to supplement and dramatically augment the insights that can be gained from physical experiments.  I will also discuss major computational challenges that lie ahead but also underscore the enormous opportunities to take advantage of advanced algorithms, powerful supercomputers and big data to tackle societal challenges in restoration of aquatic environments, sustainable mitigation of the impacts of global environmental change, and development of efficient and environmentally compatible renewable energy systems.

Borland Hydrology Lecture

Dr. Nandita Basu

​​Associate Professor – Water Sustainability and Ecohydrology, University of Waterloo

Lecture Title: Signatures of Human Impact:  Legacies, Climate Change and the Future of our Waters

Date: Friday March 29, 2019

Time: 1:00 – 2:00pm

Location: North Ballroom (CSU Lory Student Center)

Nandita Basu studies the role of humans play in modifying water availability and quality through changing land use and climate, providing innovative solutions to water sustainability challenges. Professor Basu aims to discover innovative solutions to water sustainability challenges by studying the emergent patterns in landscape, hydrology and biogeochemistry and the role humans play in modifying such patterns. She and her research group have used these patterns to develop parsimonious, minimum calibration models that can effectively interface with climate and land-use change models to provide insights into water management on local and regional scales. Modeling in Prof. Basu’s lab is complemented by experimental research to develop innovative, low cost, passive water quality samplers for surface and groundwater applications.  She is also collaborates with ecologists, social scientists and economists to explore other aspects of sustainable water management.

Abstract: Water quality is under severe threat, from increasing incidences of algal blooms and hypoxic zones in inland and coastal waters, to climate change and wildfires threatening our drinking water supplies, to emerging contaminants from rapid urbanization and concentrated livestock operations. Despite widespread implementation of a range of conservation measures, the last few decades have seen a lack of improvement, and sometime even a deterioration of the water quality in surface and groundwater bodies. Our work shows that such lack of response can be attributed partly to legacy stores of nutrients that can accumulate in the landscape over decades of intensive agriculture, and contribute to time lags between conservation measures implemented on the landscape and water quality benefits realized in receiving water bodies. Through a combination of top-down analysis–using large datasets to identify patterns in landscape behavior–and mechanistic modeling, we attempt to capture the ways in which long-term legacies of land use and management impact current dynamics in water quality.  Concurrently, my research group focuses on the science of watershed management, exploring fundamental scaling questions, and more applied management questions on spatial configurations of wetlands and riparian areas, and their roles in mitigating water pollution. From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from prairie wetlands to global biogeochemical cycles, from forest fires to urban water, our work demonstrates that, even as changes in climate and land use are leading us to a “new normal,” where past assumptions may no longer hold, we also remain strongly bound by the past.

This event is organized by the One Water Solutions Institute at Colorado State University.  For questions or comments regarding Hydrology Days please contact: