Since The Water Institute’s inception, we have evolved from working primarily on desktop research to focusing on active field- and laboratory-supported investigations that engage multi-disciplinary teams. Our applied research projects, from support for large-scale planning and decision making to targeted research, are characterized by an interdisciplinary approach and a commitment to scientific and engineering rigor.
We undertake a wide range of boat-based and fixed-station observations and field investigations of riverine, deltaic, coastal, and continental shelf environments. Using a variety of sampling techniques and investigative tools, our team performs river channel surveys of bathymetry, hydrodynamics, and sediment dynamics. We also have technology that enables us to conduct sub-bottom acoustic surveys, preform geological measurements, characterize wetland vegetation and soil, and collect data in complex and rugged coastlines.
Real-Time Sensor Data Collection and Monitoring Design
We have a number of sensors and data collection platforms that we deploy for long periods of time in order to gather data for parameters such as flow characteristics, suspended sediment, water quality, and meteorology. We also design monitoring approaches to obtain repeated long-term measurements that can be analyzed to detect change that may result from a variety of sources, including large-scale restoration and protection projects, environmental disturbances, changing climate, and other major drivers.
Integrated Natural Systems Modeling
We develop and apply world-class integrated hydrologic, morphodynamic, and ecosystem numerical tools to understand short- and long-term dynamics of complex riverine, coastal, and deltaic systems. These predictive numerical models support and inform decision-makers on how to manage and sustain valuable natural resources and infrastructure. Our team uses a wide range of numerical models and is continually seeking and identifying the best available tools in the research and practitioner communities. Examples of modeling software that we currently utilize include: Delft3D, MIKE-FLOOD, OpenFOAM, and FLOW3D. We led the development of the Integrated Compartment Model (ICM), a comprehensive predictive landscape and ecosystem model that supports large-scale coastal planning efforts. In April 2015, we earned a Delft3D Modeling Center certification, the first North America-based organization to receive such a credential.
Analytics and Integrated Decision Support
We develop and apply integrated decision support systems linking sensors, predictions, and analytics in a real time framework that can support coastal planning preparedness, operations, and emergency response at local and regional scales. Our goal is to make links between data, models, and end users more seamless in order to provide high quality information to support effective and transparent decision making.
Spatial Analysis of Socioeconomic and Ecosystem Change
We use geospatial analytics and data visualization to better understand patterns of change and the relationship of the natural system to society. This includes analysis of U.S. Census and American Community Survey data, reconstruction of historic ecosystem change, and investigation of potential future system response to planned restoration and protection measures.