Water system modeling, climate change resilience planning

Sunday, January 1, 2017
Job Type: 
Job Rank: 
PhD student
Job Institution: 
University of Cincinnati Department of Environmental Engineering
Job Description: 

Climate change and other changing conditions may jeopardize the future ability of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System’s (RWS) to meet the desired level of service of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Current planning will benefit from early identification of potential vulnerabilities and evaluation of possible relevant adaptations. This proposed effort will provide the insights needed to plan for an uncertain future by conducting a comprehensive climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning exercise in close collaboration with SFPUC. A tailored methodology based on extensive experience will be designed to 1) identify vulnerabilities through exhaustive, systematic exploration of uncertainty ranges of future conditions, 2) assess the risks associated with these vulnerabilities through integration of the best available climate information and 3) develop and evaluate an adaptation plan consisting of a portfolio of options that together are flexible and robust to a wide range of futures. This plan will provide guidance for water supply decisions that address the risk of system vulnerabilities over the next 50 years. The work will answer three questions: 1) Under what conditions and when will the RWS no longer meet water supply performance criteria? 2) Is climate change the most important driver of vulnerability for the RWS and if not, what is? 3) What is the capability to manage vulnerabilities and what should be the associated level of concern? The assessment will be performed using the concept of decision scaling where vulnerabilities are first identified and then used as a lens for assessing risks, and integrated with pathways approaches to defining adaptation plans.

Student responsibilities
• Computer modeling: statistical, hydrological, water infrastructure system. Software environments: R, Matlab.
• Publication of findings in peer-reviewed journals
• Collaboration and engagement with project partners and stakeholders

The position offers two years of full funding to doctoral students. Masters students with an interest in continuing on for a PhD will also be considered. Study will be under Patrick Ray, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering.