The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Brown to Receive NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Casey Brown of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department has been notified that he will receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award with an intended total amount of $419,097. His NSF project is entitled "Robust Management of Climate Uncertainty for Ecohydrological Sustainability.” As Dr. Brown’s NSF proposal notes, his research plan will produce “a robust management strategy for climate change by developing water management methods that incorporate predictive climate information and dynamic operations.” The award, effective July 1, 2011, is the 23rd CAREER award received by current faculty members at the college and the 30th overall.

It is the first CAREER award by a faculty member from the CEE department. As Brown’s CAREER abstract explains, “Modern water management methods were developed on the assumption that climate is stationary. That assumption is now invalid due to anthropogenic climate change. Broad questions emerge regarding the suitability of current approaches to water management, from the design and operation of water resource systems to the fundamental education of future water resources engineers.”

The proposed predictive-dynamic framework for achieving robust ecohydrological sustainability under climate uncertainty is tested with a prototype application to ecological flow provision and flood risk control in a managed river basin. The results will provide insight for a range of water resources planning issues and form the basis for a new pedagogy in water resources engineering education.

The goal of this research is to develop, demonstrate, and disseminate water management methods that address nonstationary climate and foster ecohydrological sustainability. The goal is accomplished through four specific objectives:

  • develop robustness measures of climate change risks for water resources systems;
  • evaluate risks of stationarity-based water management under climate change uncertainty;
  • explore the relative ecohydrological performance of robust water management;
  • develop a new pedagogy for water management under climate change. 

The research leverages data collection, ecological flow information, model development, and knowledge network formation underway in projects funded by NOAA and The Nature Conservancy with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Geological Survey partners. (January 2011)