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LECTURE 3: "Watershed-Scale Hydrological Models as a Community CyberPlatform for Research, Teaching, and Service to Society"

LECTURE 3: "Watershed-Scale Hydrological Models as a Community CyberPlatform for Research, Teaching, and Service to Society"

The grand challenge of sustainability and climate adaptation research requires us as hydrological scientists to transform how we conduct science and how we communicate scientific results to society. Being a relatively politically neutral topic, water resource planning is continually on the docket and cries out for effective communication between scientists and policymakers. Projections of changes in the hydrological cycle are key components of local, regional, and national planning efforts and at the same time provide “upstream” data for “downstream” climate adaptation research such as biodiversity and species migration.

In this presentation, I will share our trials and tribulations of developing a community cyberplatform, https://futurewater.indiana.edu, the core of which is coupled surface-water and groundwater models of the Wabash River basin. The water cycle is predicted to the year 2100 under two Representative Concentration Pathways (4.5 and 8.5) using climate data from an ensemble of 10 general circulation climate models. The models are run and stored on Indiana University’s vast supercomputers. A large team across many disciplines at the university has been assembled for the effort.

We have gone a step beyond the typical academic research project in making the models available to researchers, practitioners, and the public. The outputs of the hydrological models are visualized with detailed maps and interactive graphs. Data are available for download, and “power users” can run their own models. To help K-12 schools cope with the pandemic, online teaching modules have been developed to allow students to explore water availability under various climate change scenarios near their hometowns. The cyberplatform has attracted keen interest from state and federal agencies, utilities, NGOs, and municipalities in the historically water-rich Wabash River basin. Many challenges remain as we endeavor to advance capabilities in the hindcast, nowcast, and forecast of Earth’s critical zone processes, and at the same time to meaningfully engage regional stakeholders and the public. As hydrological scientists, we have an opportunity to play a critical role in a sustainable future

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