Event Title

Understanding Human Dimensions of Hydrologic Systems as a Scientific Project

Presenter Information

Douglas Jackson-Smith

Location

Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

http://water.usu.edu/

Start Date

3-27-2006 8:15 AM

End Date

3-27-2006 8:30 AM

Description

Traditional approaches to the modeling of hydrologic systems (particularly water quality and nutrient flows) have focused on understanding the basic dynamics of natural systems, unaltered by human activities. However, most natural systems have been significantly affected by human behavior. Indeed, it is difficult to find pristine areas where the movement of water can be understood without incorporating information about human manipulation of water. This is particularly true in the arid Intermountain West, where complex irrigation and culinary water diversions combine with urbanization to create new hydrologic dynamics that affect local climate, water availability and quality, and groundwater recharge patterns. This paper argues that the advance of biophysical modeling efforts will require integration of information about human dimensions that requires social science expertise at several levels. First, they can document and interpret trends in human behavior that affect the natural systems. Second, social scientists can contribute directly to interdisciplinary teams in the design of scientific experiments. Such integrated research designs will enable the distinctive contribution of human activities (and the impacts of changes in human impacts over time) on processes to be isolated and predicted with greater scientific precision. Benefits of bringing ‘humans’ into the modeling work include better science, more accurate models, and an improved ability of natural scientific research to be relevant and contribute to societal policy debates. Examples from several ongoing interdisciplinary research projects will be used to illustrate the diversity of ways that social science can contribute to the understanding and resolution of natural resource problems.

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Mar 27th, 8:15 AM Mar 27th, 8:30 AM

Understanding Human Dimensions of Hydrologic Systems as a Scientific Project

Eccles Conference Center

Traditional approaches to the modeling of hydrologic systems (particularly water quality and nutrient flows) have focused on understanding the basic dynamics of natural systems, unaltered by human activities. However, most natural systems have been significantly affected by human behavior. Indeed, it is difficult to find pristine areas where the movement of water can be understood without incorporating information about human manipulation of water. This is particularly true in the arid Intermountain West, where complex irrigation and culinary water diversions combine with urbanization to create new hydrologic dynamics that affect local climate, water availability and quality, and groundwater recharge patterns. This paper argues that the advance of biophysical modeling efforts will require integration of information about human dimensions that requires social science expertise at several levels. First, they can document and interpret trends in human behavior that affect the natural systems. Second, social scientists can contribute directly to interdisciplinary teams in the design of scientific experiments. Such integrated research designs will enable the distinctive contribution of human activities (and the impacts of changes in human impacts over time) on processes to be isolated and predicted with greater scientific precision. Benefits of bringing ‘humans’ into the modeling work include better science, more accurate models, and an improved ability of natural scientific research to be relevant and contribute to societal policy debates. Examples from several ongoing interdisciplinary research projects will be used to illustrate the diversity of ways that social science can contribute to the understanding and resolution of natural resource problems.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2006/AllAbstracts/21