The week of June 19th, Ph.D. candidate Katherine Schlef visited the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and the Water Center at Columbia University in New York. While there, Schlef presented to researchers, postdocs, graduate students, and interns and had valuable collaborative meetings. Schlef’s current research is developing long-term projections of the 100 year flood given the uncertainty associated with future climate. Her focus is on two case studies: the Ohio River basin in the American Midwest, and the Sahelian region of West Africa. She benefited greatly from the climate and statistical expertise at IRI and the Water Center, and looks forward to continuing collaborations.
The UMass Hydrosystems Group completed a week long World Bank Decision Tree Training on April 24th-28th for water managers and decision makers from around the globe. The workshop featured participants from Kenya, Nepal, South Korea, Mexico, Ethiopia, as well as World Bank staff. The Decision Tree Framework is a four-phase assessment methodology developed to understand risk associated with climate change and their potential impacts on water infrastructure.
It is common for major hydroelectric facilities, irrigation schemes, dams, and water supply systems to have 50 to 100 year lifespans. This, coupled with emerging knowledge about long term behavior of the global climate system and changes in other non-climate factors, may affect water system performance in the future. The goal of the workshop was to provide hands on practice utilizing the Decision Tree Framework for evaluating risks associated with climate change.
Participants were led through the steps of the Decision Tree Framework and spent many sessions throughout the week working collaboratively with other participants and trainers. Using Microsoft Excel, R, OpenAgua, and other modeling tools, the workshop trainers led exercises in generating modeling tools for weather generation, hydrologic processes, systems analysis, and stress testing a system for an uncertain future. Participants were eager to learn about the methods used for these different modeling tools, and many are bringing this new knowlege with th to assess climate risk in their home countries.
Earlier this week, the group took a field trip to the U.S. Geological Survey’s S. O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center in Turners Falls and the Cabot Station hydroelectric facility and fishway. Fish passage over hydraulic structures is a critical component in the design to ensure species connectivity along a river above and below a facility. This experience allowed the training participants to see a working full-scale fish passage research facility.
The Hydrosystems Group members who were trainers during the week: Casey Brown, Patrick Ray, Katherine Schlef, David Rheinheimer, and Alec Bernstein.
Hydrosystems Research Group member Hassaan Khan recently published an op-ed article in Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely read English-langugage newspaper.
Follow the link below to the article:
AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting a World Bank training workshop for water managers from developing countries April 24-28 where participants from six countries will learn about risks associated with climate change and their potential the long-term impacts on water infrastructure.
The training is being conducted by the the Hydrosystems Research Group of the department of civil and environmental engineering at UMass Amherst. There are 13 water managers attending the training along with four World Bank staff members. Participants from Kenya, Nepal, South Korea, Mexico, Ethiopia and the U.S. will learn how climate change can affect hydropower facilities, dams and water supply systems. It is common for major infrastructure projects to be designed with an expected operating life of 50 or even 100 years. Emerging knowledge about the long-term behavior of the global climate system and changes in other non-climate factors that may affect water system performance means that water systems infrastructure planning is a process of decision making under uncertainty.
Casey Brown, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UMass Amherst, one of the organizers of the training, says this event shows the key role the university plays in preparing officials around the world for the future climate. “The engineering profession is at a change point. We need to design infrastructure to be resilient in a world of change. We have water planners from around the world here to learn how.”
The training workshop will provide background on the Decision Tree Framework, developed by Brown and Patrick Ray, former research professor at UMass Amherst and currently an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. The Decision Tree Framework is a four-phase assessment methodology developed to understand risk associated with climate change and their potential impacts on water infrastructure.
Training sessions take place at the UMass Amherst Campus Center and will include sessions for participants to learn climate change science as well as hands-on sessions to develop modeling tools for evaluating water infrastructure systems. Earlier this week, the group took a field trip to the U.S. Geological Survey’s S. O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center in Turners Falls and the Cabot Station hydroelectric facility and fishway. Fish passage over hydraulic structures is a critical component in the design to ensure species connectivity along a river above and below a facility. This experience allowed the training participants to see a working full-scale fish passage research facility.
The Hydrosystems Research Group will be hosting a week long Decision Tree Framework training on April 25th through 28th on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, Massachusetts. The sessions will be focused on applying the Decision Tree Framework to address uncertainty in water resources planning and project design. Participants will bring their own system information and data and will be guided through the decision tree process during the course of the week. Training sessions will be conducted by Hydrosystems Group members Dr. Casey Brown, Dr. Patrick Ray, and Ms. Katherine Schelf.
Anyone interested in attending should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information and the application for the event as soon as possible.
Dr. Casey Brown and Dr. Patrick Ray conducted a World Bank training workshop on the Decision Tree Framework: A Climate Risk Assessment for Water Infrastructure at the Hydropower and Dams 2017: Africa conference in Marrakech, Morocco. The training took place on March 12th and 13th, 2017 at the La Palmeraie Conference Centre in Marrakech, and the conference was March 14th-16th.
The training was well attended by approximately 30 participants from universities, government agencies, consulting firms, and water & energy ministries from all across Africa. This training was meant to be an introduction to the Decision Tree Framework, and many participants were enthusiastic to learn more about the framework and apply it on their own systems.
A young engineer from the water ministry in Morocco responded that if the training had not been provided, his ministry would never have thought about screening projects for climate risk. Hydrosystems group member Alec Bernstein attended the workshop and conference as a participant and engaged with many of the attendees of the training session; the young engineer’s response was typical for many participants of the sessions.
The Hydrosystems Research Group will be hosting a week long World Bank Decision Tree Training April 25th through 28th in Amherst, Massachusetts. Anyone interested in attending should contact email@example.com for information and the application for the event.
by: SARAH FREEMAN
I had been in Mexico City for under 48 hours and about 8 of them had been spent in a car. I don’t think I even realized that I let out a sigh at the thought when I caught my taxi driver, Jose, grinning in the rear view mirror, “the pride of Mexico City,” he said. He was referring to the traffic. His comment was not sarcastic, nor was it cynical, but rather seemed to possess a genuine buoyancy.
Mexico City is a metropolis; its frenetic bustle and growth appear limitless. But while the city grows, it is also sinking. The latter is a result of an ongoing struggle to satisfy a growing demand for water which has led to over abstraction of their aquifer and the infamous subsidence of the city. Our team had traveled to Mexico City to kick off a new research initiative to investigate the very issue of how to provide for the water needs of Mexico City and the valley that surrounds it both now and into the future.
The system itself is very complex. While about 60% of the water for the city is pumped from over exploited aquifer, the remaining 40% is sourced from the surrounding watersheds at considerable cost and at times involve vexing politics. During our short visit we met with nine institutions involved in various aspects of the water provision puzzle. We listened to their characterizations of the issues they are facing. These issues range from losses in the distribution system (which represent around 40% of water that makes it to the city) to seemingly chronic budget issues. We also had the opportunity to see first-hand the Lerma system which is one of the local sources that provides over 10% of the city’s supply. The Lerma River itself has been reduced to a brown trickle running towards a system of lakes that were once home to large populations of migratory birds. These lakes have now been reduced to about 5% of their original surface area.
Taking in the severity and complexity of the water challenges faced by Mexico City and the Valley of Mexico generally, it’s hard to remain optimistic. I depart the city on the way to the airport with my mind racing about all of these issues. As I look out the window of my taxi I see rain water collection barrels on roofs and water trucks (pipas) delivering water to areas without access and instead of thinking of the challenges I’m reminded of Jose’s positive spirit. This is a place where challenges can be tackled with innovation and optimism.
Sarah Freeman is a PhD candidate in the Hydrosystems Research Group and is leading the Group’s Mexico City freshwater initiative.
Hydrosystems Group member Hassaan Khan is a finalist in the UMass Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) this semester. His research is on water markets to improve the efficiency of water systems in water scarce regions of the world. He successfully breezed through the preliminary rounds, and he will compete in the finals on March 24th at 4:00pm. The event is open to the public.
Check out the video, below, to get a 3 minute description of Hassaan’s research!
— Hassaan F Khan (@hasfkhan) March 7, 2017
Dr. Casey Brown will be presenting a training session on the Decision Tree Framework during the Africa 2017 Hydropower Conference. The conference will take place in Marrakech, Morocco on March 12th through March 16th.
The Decision Tree Framework is a robust decision scaling approach that provides resource-limited project planners and program managers with a cost-effective and effort-efficient, scientifically defensible, repeatable, and clear method for demonstrating the robustness of a project to climate change. The framework adopts a “bottom-up” approach to risk assessment that aims at a thorough understanding of a project’s vulnerabilities to climate change in the context of other nonclimate uncertainties (for example, economic, environmental, demographic, or political). It helps to identify projects that perform well across a wide range of potential future climate conditions, as opposed to seeking solutions that are optimal in expected conditions but fragile to conditions deviating from the expected.