Research

We work in multiple areas related to water, but our research generally addresses the following themes:

Groundwater surface water interactions 

How does the slowest moving and hardest to see component of the terrestrial hydrologic cycle shape watershed behavior and water availability?

Our research explores how groundwater influences watershed dynamics. This includes connections between groundwater and the partitioning of precipitation into runoff and recharge, as well as  plant transpiration and irrigation demand.  Currently we are studying relationships between groundwater configuration, residence time distributions and system response to stress in arid mountain systems. 

Groundwater and the food energy water nexus

What are the trade offs between groundwater usage, energy demand, food production and long term sustainability of agricultural systems?  

Groundwater is a critical water source that is often the most stable supply when surface water is scarce. However, overexploitation leads to increasing groundwater depths, escalating energy demand for pumping and agricultural production costs.  We have partnered with researchers in China and the US to study these trade offs in two globally important agricultural systems: the Central Valley of California and the Heihei River Basin in China. 

Water resources planning and decision making

Can we improve the resiliency of managed systems by incorporating our best understanding of physical system dynamics?

We are interested in interactions between human and natural systems and how we can better leverage feedbacks and synergies for long term sustainability. We have applied statistical methods to improve seasonal water supply forecasting and future flood risk assessment. In addition, we develop numerical models to better understand connections between human and natural systems and how human decision making can influence watershed behavior

Large scale hydrologic modeling

How can we translate hydrologic process understanding from the hillslope to continental and global simulations?

Global climate and earth systems models are standard tools used to predict global change. However, the representation of groundwater processes in these tools is currently a limiting factor.  Our group develops a large-scale, high resolution, physically based, hydrologic models to better simulate and understand terrestrial hydrology.  

High performance computing, data management and visualization

How can we do all these things better, faster, stronger?

The modeling tools we use for our research are data and computationally intensive. To answer the science questions that drive our work we take advantage of high performance computing and efficient workflow and data management approaches. We work with computer scientists and applied mathematicians to improve our modeling platforms and help create tools and simulated outputs that are accessible to the hydrologic community.