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Water Information, Water Security and Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada

Roger C. Bales, Ph.D., UC Merced
May 30, 2013 from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (America/Los_Angeles / UTC-700)
1130 K Street, Room LL3
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Water security is the reliable availability of an acceptable quantity & quality of water for health, livelihoods and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks. California has in the past, and can in the future, maintain its high level of water security through a combination of adequate infrastructure to store treat and transport water, plus strong and adaptable institutions. However, with pressures of climate change and growing demand on a fixed or diminishing resource, a third ingredient, better water information, is critical for investment by the state. With better management, California’s existing water supply can go further toward meeting the needs of the state’s urban and agricultural uses. Currently, almost all operations of California’s hydropower and water-supply water reservoirs are controlled and regulated using forecasts based on historical snowpack and runoff data. In the face of global climate change, these forecasts will become increasingly inadequate to manage water resources in optimal and equitable ways. Relatively small investments in satellite remote sensing data, ground-based measurements and cyber-infrastructure have the potential to dramatically improve hydrologic information, reduce uncertainty in water availability, and improve water-supply reliability. These improvements will inform decision making by offering more accurate and timely information for predicting precipitation, runoff and water conditions across catchments.

Roger_BalesDr. Bales joined the University of California, Merced, as Professor of Engineering in June 2003, and is one of U.C. Merced's inaugural faculty. Dr. Bales received his B.S. from Purdue University, an M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He worked as a consulting engineer from 1975 to 1980, prior to his Ph.D., and was Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona from 1984 to 2003. He has published over 100 papers in diverse fields of research including snow hydrology, alpine hydrology and biogeochemistry, polar snow and ice, contaminant hydrology, and water quality. In 2007 he was named Acting Director, and in 2008 Director, of UC Merced's Sierra Nevada Research Institute.  At UC Merced, Dr. Bales organized the Mountain Hydrology Research Group, which is deploying new research instrumentation at several Sierra Nevada sites, and has multiple ongoing, collaborative projects investigating mountain hydrology. He has continuing research in Greenland and Antarctica.

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