Research

Climate Adaptation Planning

Water resources systems face substantial risks from long-term uncertainties in the frequency and severity of extreme events, such as floods and droughts. Combined with projected changes to seasonal timing of water availability, water infrastructure and operations must be adapted to prepare for a range of possible futures beyond their original designs. In particular, we emphasize dynamic adaptation policies that respond to new climate observations and projections over time as uncertainties are partially resolved. A key step in this process is the ability to detect significant changes in hydrology and system performance as they occur.

Publications: Cohen and Herman (2021), Robinson et al. (2020), Herman et al. (2020)

Multi-Objective Reservoir Control

Reservoir networks must be managed to satisfy multiple competing objectives, such as supply reliability, hydropower production, and environmental flows. This poses challenges for computational methods to identify and analyze these tradeoffs, and to communicate them for decision support. This work couples multi-objective optimization methods with simulation models to assess the system-level tradeoffs between decision alternatives. Of particular interest is the potential to leverage short-term precipitation forecasts and other sources of information to improve system performance in water supply and flood risk objectives.

Publications: Cohen et al. (2021), Brodeur et al. (2020), Herman and Giuliani (2018)

Dynamics of Human-Environmental Systems

The challenges of long-term uncertainty in climate and hydrology are compounded by uncertainty in human behavior, including land use and reservoir regulation. Long-term water planning must account for the complex feedbacks between individuals, institutions, and the climate-hydrologic system. We are currently investigating both data-driven and conceptual dynamical systems approaches to building and testing models of these feedbacks, and their implications for sustainable water management.

Publications: Molla et al. (2021), Ekblad and Herman (2021), Mall and Herman (2019)