EcoEngineering Resilience

Full Title

Climate change and water resources adaptation: Decision scaling and integrated eco-engineering resilience


Climate change is rapidly altering the global water cycle, challenging society’s ability to sustainably manage water both for people (electricity, cities, agriculture) and for aquatic ecosystems and species. One of the most difficult needs for sustainable water management is understanding how to design dams or ecosystem management plans capable of working over many decades, even centuries, particularly when our understanding of future climate is highly uncertain at the scale of individual river basins. Further, regions where rapid new dam development is occurring often lack a reliable historic record to guide sustainable water choices. The expertise that exists to address these challenges is fragmented between academics and field practitioners and between disciplines such as ecology, engineering, and hydrology.

We plan to develop a novel and timely strategy for sustainable water management by integrating engineering and ecological approaches to climate resilience. We will use “decision scaling,” an approach centered on stakeholder identification of key ecological and hydrological vulnerabilities to future climate shifts and on analysis of risk of exceeding thresholds of water infrastructure failure with evidence of different confidence levels. Integrating ecological and engineering cultures is essential to allow water managers and policy makers to evaluate explicit tradeoffs between economic development and hydro-ecological stewardship in making choices about designing, building, and operating water infrastructure in a genuinely sustainable fashion. We will use this tool to engage global and regional decision makers and institutions (governments agencies, development banks, NGOs) who are actively engaged in long-term sustainable water investment, management, and conservation.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
N. LeRoy Poff, Colorado State University
John H. Matthews, Alliance for Global Water Adaptation
Natalie Beckman, U.S. Department of State
Eugene Brantly, RTI International
Casey Brown, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ben Campbell, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Julian Doczi, Overseas Development Institute
Kathleen Dominique, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Luis Garcia, World Bank
Kristin Gilroy, US Army Corps of Engineers
Ted Grantham, UC Berkeley
Ana Gren, Sida
Marjolijn Haasnoot, Deltares
Harvey Hill, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Miroslav Honzák, Conservation International
Sebastian Hyzyk, European Investment Bank
Ad Jeuken, Deltares
Christine Lee, NASA
Justine Leigh-Bell, Climate Bonds Initiative
Xianfu Lu, UN Climate Change Newsroom
Charlotte MacAlister, International Development Research Centre
Guillermo Mendoza, US Army Corps of Engineers
Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, Inter-American Development Bank
Anil Mishra, UNESCO
Rolf Olsen, U.S. Geological Survey
Charles Ortloff, University of Chicago
Patrick Ray, University of Massachusetts
Diego Rodriguez, World Bank
Aleix Serrat-Capdevila, University of Arizona
Caitlin Spence, University of Massachusetts
Eugene Stakhiv, Johns Hopkins University
Bruce Stewart, WMO
David Toll, NASA
Marcus Wijnen, World Bank
Rob Wilby, University of Loughborough
Alyssa Wiltse, OOSKAnews
Benjamin Zaitchik, Johns Hopkins University

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