In Drought and Deluge: How Applied Hydroinformatics are Becoming Standard Operating Data for All Californians

A central problem for all Californians is that there is often not enough water or too much. While the Mediterranean climate of cool wet winters and dry warm summers creates highly livable environments, inter- and intra-annual variation in precipitation has necessitated the development of vast engineering works to divert, capture, store, transport, and deliver water from regions of abundance to regions of scarcity. This human driven transformation of California’s environment has resulted in the 10th largest global economy. It has also resulted in acute issues in environmental sustainability that must be addressed as we hurtle toward meeting the water and food security demands of 50 million Californians and an interdependent agricultural trade system. Increasingly all Californians have become water managers as the state wrestles with persistent drought and unreconciled competing demands for scarce water resources. To help inform these water management decisions, the emerging field of hydroinformatics is being used to improve underlying information stores about water – its collection, storage, synthesis and dissemination. This talk will explore how improved decision making and resource management are emerging from synthesized water data. Examples include “hydrolapse videography” – a digital, time-encoded coupling of hydrologic information records with corresponding timelapse imagery – as a means to provide river managers a rich, but intelligible, data stream that is both qualitative and quantitative in nature. Biography: Joshua Viers joined the CITRIS leadership as the director at UC Merced in August 2013. Prior to this, Dr. Viers has been serving in a research capacity at UC Davis for 10 years since receiving his Ph.D. in Ecology there, most recently as Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Before that he received his B.S. in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis, where he received an Outstanding Performance Citation. He has also served in leadership roles in the Center for Watershed Sciences, currently as Executive Associate Director, on the UCD Graduate Education Committee, and has chaired the International Programs Committee for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Dr. Viers currently has over $6M in active grants and supports a research team of nearly 30 students, postdocs, and staff with the support of sponsors including the Nature Conservancy, California Energy Commission, CALFED Ecological Restoration Program, Caltrans, North Coast Water Quality Control Board, US Bureau of Land Management, USDA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service. Josh developed and led the UC Extension program in GIS for Watershed Analysis (180+ hours of instruction, 300+ students), and taught undergraduate courses in environmental data analysis and global water resources, and has been involved in mentoring graduate students.