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🔬 "Functional Environmental Flows"

Water Talk

Photo by matthew Feeney / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Drs. Mallika Nocco, Faith Kearns & Sam Sandoval
Guests: Dr. Marisa Escobar | Senior Scientist | Stockholm Environmental Institute &
Dr. Belize Lane | Assistant Professor | Utah State University
Category: 🔬 Research

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[10:42] BL: “Given how complicated our river systems are, and how variable in both space and time, I wanted to organize these complex systems for the water science and management community. So I was interested in understanding what patterns and groups emerge from the data when you look over these large datasets. […] And at the end of the day, even though all these rivers exist along a spectrum, as all natural systems do, we were able to delineate distinct groups that either have streamflow patterns, or have channel morphology. My hope is […] those can be used to help facilitate decision making and facilitate the transfer of information from systems where we have a lot of information that are well studied, well monitored, well funded to the many across the state where we don't have that information. So to best use the data that we do have to inform decisions over these large spatial scales, we can make decisions now, and then continue to fill in the gaps and improve our understanding through time after that.”

[15:17] ME: “In very simple terms, a functional flow is a […] representation of the work that the river does to create the conditions for habitat. So at the end, water is kind of the architect of the habitat in landscapes and rivers. So, we wanted to see how that process happens and to estimate the work that the river does to either move sediment in high flows, to […] create the habitat or mid flow to clean the gravel for other functions.”

[17:13] BL: “Our research group identified 9 distinct natural stream classes, ranging from high elevations snowmelt dominated streams in the southern Sierra, primarily, to winter rainstorm dominated streams, like those in the North Coast. And everything in between […]. Something that was interesting, though, is that there were very clear groupings depending on the dominant mechanisms of runoff generation. […] Those seasonal signals coming from our larger climate patterns, combined with the geology and the topography, and the land use [...] lead to some very clear patterns. That was very exciting to me, because it sets us up for developing flow targets based on these natural ranges of stream flow patterns that we can identify using a combination of machine learning and signal processing and hydrologic modeling.”

[30:31] ME: “Integrated water resources management is lacking […] in space, time and in scope. In space, because when you think about watersheds, sometimes you are at a meso level, and you're not connected to what's happening at the rest of the world and we are not connecting to what's happening at the community or ecosystem level. In time, because all these planning processes happen for 5-10 years. […] So we need to kind of downscale those larger planning processes to what's happening daily. And in scope because many times we are not considering the sectors and the conditions and for example […] equality issues.”

Rating: 💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 34 min | 🗓️ 02/18/2022
✅ Time saved: 33 min