News from the Columbia Climate School

Simplify, Simplify: CWC Seminar on predicting the affects of climate change

mainpicMarch 4, the Columbia Water Center Seminar series hosted Professor Murugesu Sivapalan, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who spoke on Space-Time Symmetry of Annual Water Balance Variability and Climate Sensitivity: A Functional Model.

In other words, if the water balance (the relationship between precipitation, runoff, infiltration into the soil and evapotranspiration) in one basin changes over time, can a similar change be expected in another place under analogous conditions?  The Professor presented a series of equations that attempt this analysis using four parameters only, developed from observed data from 400 surface-water basins around the United States under a variety of climatic conditions.

The equations are not intended to provide a model which incorporates all the complexities of human and natural interactions within the watershed.  They are meant to present a simple method of predicting probable changes in the water balance by changing the value of one or more of the parameters, such as may happen due to climate change. He also compared the affects of vegetation cover on the water balance.

Professor Sivapalan’s work will be published in two upcoming articles.  You can learn more about him and the University of Illinois’ Center for Water as a Complex System here.

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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