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4—
Applications and Knowledge Transfer

Water cycle issues affect all segments of society in all parts of the world. Everyone has a stake in the climate, in water resources, in the ecosystem, and in the economic implications of changes in the amount and distribution of fresh water on Earth. Scientific research in hydrology must have close links with societal and stakeholder needs, or applications; it must also have a vigorous knowledge-transfer effort that addresses kindergarten through university education, public outreach, and transfer of research results into practice.

Human population growth has resulted in heavy demands on the quantity and quality of water resources worldwide. The sustainability of these water resources in the twenty-first century will depend on the intelligent management of water resources systems under a more variable (and possibly warmer) future climate. The development of improved management strategies and viable interventions to meet these challenges will entail unprecedented coordination and integration across a broad range of research disciplines and segments of society.

Applications and User Integration

The increasing emphasis of the USGCRP on integrated assessment of the regional impacts of global change, including impacts on water resources, is fostering participatory, interactive research involving researchers, decision-makers, resource users, educators, and others who need more and better information about climate and its impacts. USGCRP is also supporting efforts to improve climate forecasting and the use of climate forecasts to manage water, fisheries, forests, crops, and range lands at the regional and local levels.

The term "regional assessment" is used to describe the collection, interpretation, evaluation, and communication of information of relevance to decision-makers, resource managers, and other individuals interested in a specific geographic location. Such assessments are "integrated" in several ways: (1) an end-to-end integration, which links understanding of ocean-atmosphere processes to regional impacts and policy responses, (2) an interdisciplinary integration, which brings together natural and social scientists, (3) the integration of scales of analysis from the local to the global and from short to long time scales, and (4) the integration of university and government research agendas with private sector concerns and public interests.



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OCR for page 25
Page 25 4— Applications and Knowledge Transfer Water cycle issues affect all segments of society in all parts of the world. Everyone has a stake in the climate, in water resources, in the ecosystem, and in the economic implications of changes in the amount and distribution of fresh water on Earth. Scientific research in hydrology must have close links with societal and stakeholder needs, or applications; it must also have a vigorous knowledge-transfer effort that addresses kindergarten through university education, public outreach, and transfer of research results into practice. Human population growth has resulted in heavy demands on the quantity and quality of water resources worldwide. The sustainability of these water resources in the twenty-first century will depend on the intelligent management of water resources systems under a more variable (and possibly warmer) future climate. The development of improved management strategies and viable interventions to meet these challenges will entail unprecedented coordination and integration across a broad range of research disciplines and segments of society. Applications and User Integration The increasing emphasis of the USGCRP on integrated assessment of the regional impacts of global change, including impacts on water resources, is fostering participatory, interactive research involving researchers, decision-makers, resource users, educators, and others who need more and better information about climate and its impacts. USGCRP is also supporting efforts to improve climate forecasting and the use of climate forecasts to manage water, fisheries, forests, crops, and range lands at the regional and local levels. The term "regional assessment" is used to describe the collection, interpretation, evaluation, and communication of information of relevance to decision-makers, resource managers, and other individuals interested in a specific geographic location. Such assessments are "integrated" in several ways: (1) an end-to-end integration, which links understanding of ocean-atmosphere processes to regional impacts and policy responses, (2) an interdisciplinary integration, which brings together natural and social scientists, (3) the integration of scales of analysis from the local to the global and from short to long time scales, and (4) the integration of university and government research agendas with private sector concerns and public interests.

OCR for page 25
Page 26 dialog with stakeholders has shown that in nearly all regions of the United States, there is a strong demand for additional climate information and particularly for how climate changes will affect water availability, quality, and demand. This dialog has also revealed critical research needs in hydrologic science that are necessary to meet this need. Increased attention to the research topics in Chapter 2 is supported by the assessment activities to date, and their is a clear need to continue this sort of formal assessment to guide the effectiveness and applications of hydrologic research. Education and Knowledge Transfer Greater hydrologic literacy facilitates transfer of hydrologic information from research to application. Promoting greater literacy includes educating decision-makers, the public and K-12 students in order to support informed public decisions about water issues that society will face in coming decades. New approaches in undergraduate and graduate education that transcend the traditional focus on hydrologic applications are needed to educate a generation of scientists and engineers who can develop and apply advances in hydrologic science (NRC, 1991). The hydrologic science community should adopt a stronger sense of responsibility for delivering timely and relevant scientific tools (e.g., instruments, models, and procedures) to the operational community to meet societal needs. In turn the operational community should break the isolation that has caused lags in incorporating advances in hydrologic science in operational procedures. Effective two-way knowledge transfer between researchers and the many public agencies and private sector individuals who work with hydrology-related issues is clearly needed.