Idaho Research Infrastructure Improvement: Water Resources in a Changing Climate
Proposal Number: EPS-0814387
Proposal Title: Idaho Research Infrastructure Improvement: Water Resources in a Changing Climate
Institution: University of Idaho
Goals: This five-year Research Infrastructure Improvement award will significantly expand the statewide research infrastructure for understanding the effects of climate change on water resources in the region and the impact of these effects on ecological, human, and economic systems. This RII project aims to fill a critical niche in hydrology by understanding the nexus between surface flow and groundwater; supporting field studies on a highly managed river system and a relatively unmanaged system; and developing a more complete understanding of how climate change will impact the Western U.S. across multiple watersheds. To do this, capacity will be developed in three areas: 1) hydroclimatology to improve modeling of water resources affected by climate change; 2) integration of hydrology and economic modeling of water resources in the Snake River basin (highly managed river system); and 3) integration of hydrology and ecological change in the Salmon River basin (unmanaged river system). Battelle?s comprehensive analysis of Idaho?s core competencies identified ecological health as an area with high potential for tying its academic research strengths to commercial applications. The research theme of this award directly supports the Ecological Health Technology Platform.
Project Major Foci: The core research focus is the impact of climate change on human and ecologic systems at small to intermediate-sized watersheds. During the first three years of the award, the project will concentrate on hydrologic modeling of the Snake and Salmon basins. Output from the models will be used in the later years of the project to determine the effects of climate change on resources in Idaho. Probabilistic techniques, such as Bayesian network modeling, will be used to derive probability distributions for water supply options and reliability under various scenarios. Results from all studies will be used to populate a web-based decision support system that integrates internet-mapping technologies with Bayesian networks to quantify the impact of climate change on water supply and demand.
Intellectual Merit The Intellectual Merit lies in the creation of a cohesive team of researchers in climate change and water resources, who will perform modeling of surface and groundwater connections in managed river systems; will enhance the understanding of how climate change impacts may be buffered through effective utilization of groundwater; and will provide key data to clarify economic ramifications of climate change.
Broader Impacts The understanding of the effects of climate change on water resources could enhance planning regarding water resources in Idaho as well as the western region of the U. S. A range of experimental learning programs for secondary students and teachers, designed to enhance STEM education in the state, particularly the Native American and Hispanic populations, will bring the excitement of science to the classrooms. Outreach and diversity investments will provide sustainable experimental learning programs for 1,750 secondary students and teachers.