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  1. Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship Barbara Robson | CLW 17 April 2012

  2. Section 1: Questions What sort of questions are stakeholders asking of catchment to coast models? Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson| Page 2

  3. Flow questions • How will flows change and what impact will this have on ecosystem health? • Aquatic ecosystems – especially fisheries and biodiversity • Riparian ecosystems • Floodplain ecosystems – e.g. River Redgums in the Murray Darling Basin • What is the economic benefit of environmental flows? • Can we predict the impacts of floods? Research Priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson| Page 3

  4. Water quality questions • What impacts are increased sediment loads having, and how can we reduce them? • How can we control eutrophication (N and P)? • How can we prevent toxic algal blooms, blackwater events and fish kills? • How are toxicants (pesticides and industrial pollutants) distributed and when might they cause problems? • When should we be worried about pathogens? (E. coli, Cryptosporidium, ...) • How can we prevent salinisation and acidification? Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 4

  5. Emerging questions • How can we ameliorate the effects of climate change? • How can we detect these effects? • Can we quantify the roles of our catchments and aquatic systems in storing and releasing carbon? • What will be the impacts of new industrial activities, such as coal seam gas extraction? Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 5

  6. Section 2: Challenges What ‘s wrong with our current catchment to coast models? Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson| Page 6

  7. Poor integration • Mismatched timescales • “Average annual” vs. minute-to-minute • Mismatched tracers • e.g. TN vs. Nox, NH4, DON & PON • TSS vs. particle size groups • Missing components • What’s going on in minor streams and reservoirs? • Software and UI differences • Integrating with ecology and economics gets even harder Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 7

  8. Missing pieces • We don’t model all the processes and components we’d need to answer some of the questions being asked. Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 8

  9. Poor assessment • Inconsistent implementation of best practise methodology • No clear agreement on metrics • Often none presented • Otherwise usually cherry-picked • It’s not that easy • Methods that work will for simple models fail with complex, processor-intensive models with multiple outputs – c.f. Nugzar’s talk • Often not enough data • We don’t really understand when our models are likely to work • Mark’s talk this afternoon was a good example of how to get at this Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 9

  10. Poor handling of uncertainty • Modelling studies rarely consider more than one source of uncertainty (usually parameter uncertainty, sometimes input uncertainty). Other sources (e.g. structural uncertainty) are ignored. • We don’t have good toolboxes for following uncertainty through a complex model. • We don’t communicate uncertainty well. Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 10

  11. The problem of complexity (Modified from Grayson and Blöschl, 2000) Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 11

  12. The “build and forget cycle” Study ends Funds cease Model becomes dated Modellers move on This year’s state of the art Excitement and enthusiasm New management question arises Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 12

  13. Section 3: A national catchment to coast modelling framework What might such a thing look like? Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson| Page 13

  14. A national C2C modelling framework Key features • Properly integrated catchment to coast modelling • Connecting modelling with data sources • Integrated model and monitoring design • Operationalisation • Data assimilation • Flexible and relocatable models • Multiply nested modelling • Building modelling capacity • Overcoming the “build and forget” cycle • Best practise guidelines • Visualisation and user interfaces Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 14

  15. Section 4: Research priorities Where might a little investment go a long way? Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson| Page 15

  16. Research priority areas • Improved catchment nutrient modelling • Inclusion of additional water environments, constituents and processes relevant to emerging issues • Integration of modelling with observations • New and improved modelling techniques • Building more flexible models • Improved modelling practise Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 16

  17. 1. Improved catchment nutrient modelling Modelling of catchment nutrient processes will allow: • Better extrapolation to new or changed catchments • Prediction of all relevant nutrient species • Smaller time-steps for integration with receiving water models This sort of model exists, but we’re not using them in CSIRO • Arguments over complexity and parsimony Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 17

  18. 2. Additional water environments, constituents and processes • Integrated modelling of climate change impacts • Integrated modelling of surface water / groundwater interactions • Reservoirs, mangroves, floodplains and floodplain wetlands • Improved carbon flux modelling • Improved sediment transport modelling • Coal seam gas contaminants • Modelling stable isotopes for improved process understanding • Improved integration beyond biophysics (ecology and beyond) Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 18

  19. 3. Integration of modelling with observations • Data assimilation • Matching what is modelled to what is measured and vice-versa • Designing complementary modelling and monitoring programmes • Iterative conceptual and numerical modelling and observation Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 19

  20. 4. New and improved modelling techniques • Improved statistical underpinnings for process-based models • Hybrid modelling approaches (merging statistical and physical modelling) • Emulator methods Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 20

  21. 5. Building more flexible models • Relocatable and multiply nested models • Operationalisation • Improving reliability • Integration with online databases and feeds • Forecasting vs. hindcasting and scenarios • Building modelling communities Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 21

  22. 6. Improved modelling practise • Better ways to handle and report uncertainty • (e.g. Bayesian Hierarchical modelling) • Improved assessment of modelling capability • New metrics (such as wavelet analysis) • Better process for assessment (e.g. Karen’s proposal) • Can we come up with some scaling rules for the limits of predictablity? • More consistent application of “best practise” methodology • Including better assessment Research priorities in catchment to coast modelling| Barbara Robson | Page 22

  23. What else? Barbara RobsonSenior Research ScientistCSIRO Land and Water t +61 2 6246 5614 e barbara.robson@csiro.au w www.csiro.au/clw • Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship