Tag Archives: water resources

Dr. Katherine Schlef publishes study finding patterns associated with extreme floods

Hydrosystems Group alumni, Dr. Kathrine Schlef (now at Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science and Western New England University) is the lead author on a paper titled “Atmospheric Circulation Patterns Associated with Extreme United States Floods Identified via Machine Learning“.  The paper was recently published in Scientific Reports and finds that extreme floods across the continental United States are associated with four broad atmospheric patterns.  The analysis used a machine learning algorithm to place floods into groups based on the underlying atmospheric pattern happening at the time.  Four broad atmospheric patterns primarily associated with extreme floods include tropical moisture exports, tropical cyclones, low pressure systems, and melting snow.  Dr. Schelf additionally developed an interactive web tool with detailed information about extreme floods across the continental US.

Spatial Domain where each Pattern is Dominant. Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-43496-w.pdf

Casey Brown co-authors National Climate Assessment

Dr. Casey Brown, leader of the Hydrosystems Research Group, recently co-authored the water chapter of the latest National Climate Assessment, a comprehensive government report that warms how climate change threatens United States water security. Dr. Brown was one of 300 scientists who authored the report, meant to inform US leaders about how climate change affects land, water, and air across the country.

Dr. Brown was recently interviewed by Circle of Blue after the report was released, the day after Thanksgiving.  An excerpt from that interview:

Physical changes will dramatically reshape human life and the systems that support it. The report also underscores troubling knowledge gaps about how the projected increase in extreme storms and heat will affect the nation’s water supply.  “We don’t have a very good grasp as a nation what our water-related risks are,” Casey Brown told Circle of Blue. “We seem to keep learning this every time there’s a flood or drought.”

The water chapter emphasized three elements of human built infrastructure which will be impacted by climate change:
1) water quality and availability will shift
2) dams, levees, drainage systems, and other components of the nation’s infrastructure are aging and poorly designed for increased variability due to climate change
3) water managers will need to prepare for a broader set of climate stresses in the future.

A link to the full report can be found here (185MB – large file!)