Understanding, Characterizing, and Modeling Complex Hydrologic Systems

Initiative on Emergent Water Risks

Water security is about ensuring the short-term and long-term provision of adequate, affordable, accessible and safe freshwater supply for the growing human population needs and ecosystems services. Water security is being threatened through a number of stressors such as climate change, expansion of urban and peri-urban development, groundwater withdrawal at non-replenishable rates, large transmission and quality losses through water distribution systems, degradation of environmental and water quality, emerging landuse practices such as expansion of water intensive bioenergy crops, etc. As a result, ensuring water security for the present and future generations is becoming a formidable task. Water as a resource is no longer replenished by the hydrologic cycle due to the intensity of human use. Its availability and access is highly heterogeneous that varies across climatic, geographic, and socio-economic gradients. Climate change driven threat multipliers further add to the vulnerability of these systems with potentially cascading consequences across the various scales. Our research goal is to explore novel solutions to emergent risks using methods that are rooted in complex system science and envisioning an engineering approach that is synergistic with insights from the social sciences.