Hydrology and Water Resources

Water as an Integrated System and Environment (WISE) Research Group

Water is a complex integrated system that touches every corner of our society and environment. Together with projected climate change, continuous land-cover change challenges many parts of the world as they work to sustain their water resources. Smart land and water management practices could potentially reduce the risk of future water vulnerability while enhancing water ecosystem services. With an integrated framework, the WISE research group seeks to answer the following questions:


Figure source: Chang (2017)

  1. How much water will we have and will we need in the future with projected climate change and population growth?
  2. What are the effects of changes in land cover and water management on runoff and water quality across scales?
  3. What are the biophysical and sociodemographic determinants of water demand at different scales?
  4. What is the role of water infrastructure to make the water system more resilient to internal and external stresses?
  5. How do the water system and the human system co-evolve?

Our research group has been examining these topics in both urban and rural settings in different parts of the world. In the Pacific Northwest, in collaboration with many local, regional and federal agencies (e.g., US Geological Survey, Metro, City of Portland, Portland Water Bureau, Tualatin River Valley Water District, Clackamas River Water Providers, City of Hillsboro, Clean Water Services, and Watershed Councils), we have been examining such topics as water quality and land-cover change (Tualatin, Johnson, and Salmon Creeks), the effects of climate change on watershed hydrology and vulnerable infrastructure (Portland metro area), economic impacts of climate change on freshwater resources (Willamette River basin), water resource vulnerability (Columbia River basin), interactions among climate variability, hydrologic ecosystem services in a changing climate (Sandy River, Northern Willamette Valley), land use and residential water consumption (Portland metro and western US cities), climate change and water demand modeling (Portland and Phoenix), urban stream restoration and water quality (Johnson, Burnt Bridge creeks), the effects of urban storm water runoff on water quality (Fanno, Balch, Johnson creeks), and climate change and flood risk (Vernonia, Lower Willamette River). In Korea, in collaboration with Sejong University and Meteorological Research Institute of Korea, and Kangwon National University, we have examined vulnerability of flood risks as they relate to climate and land-cover changes (Gangwon Province, Gyonggi Province, South Korea), the interactions of water quality, water use, climate, and population changes (Seoul and Han River basin).

We are using various biophysical and socioeconomic data describing watershed characteristics to investigate the complex and hierarchical interactions of watershed dynamics. We are also using both quantitative and qualitative methods to unravel these complex interactions across scales. Students are strongly encouraged to learn Geographic information systems, spatial statistics, systems dynamics model as well as basic field and hydrologic modeling techniques. Our research is highly integrative and interdisciplinary in nature, which is increasingly important for collaborative research.