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Environmental sustainability at the intersection of climate and human change

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: South Mudd 365
Efi Foufoula_Georgiou, Distinguished Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Irvine

Abstract:

Climatic trends and intensive exploration of landscapes are changing water cycle dynamics in unprecedented ways, often triggering adverse changes in water quality, river ecology and the environmental goods and services these landscapes provide.  In this talk I will use as example a prototype intensively managed agricultural landscape in the Midwestern US where agricultural production is thriving but threatening the health of the receiving waters at the local basin scale to the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone.  The scientific challenges, and our approach in meeting them, will be presented which include: the multiple processes that need to be modeled in minimally parameterized models (hydrology, sediment production and transport, river biota, nitrogen exports); the wide range of temporal and spatial scales over which system understanding is needed (plot to large watershed scales and event to seasonal flows to decadal outcomes); the need to identify process thresholds that can trigger unsustainable change; the need for a comprehensive and strategic program of field monitoring, laboratory testing, and multi-scale modeling to gain system understanding; and finally the challenge of putting science to practice to suggest effective management and policy options, in this case going against the grain.

Series: Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
For more information, please phone 626-395-8732 or email kbravo@gps.caltech.edu

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