water science

e-Science and Water Cyberinfrastructure

2 Comments 07 January 2011

e-Science and Water Cyberinfrastructure

Science and technology are crucial components of water monitoring and management. As policy makers, specialists, and other experts compare and debate statistics on water related issues,  the question always lingers, “Which data is most reliable?”

Ideally, water professionals should have access to the same data points at any given time. Then, lobbying for effective water management policies would be based on shared, reliable and transparent data sets.

The Berkeley Water Center (BWC) at the University of California at Berkeley partnered with the Microsoft Company for roughly five years to develop a global eScience water tool . Together, the two entities embarked on a Water Cyberinfrastructure model that has since been automated.

Professor James Hunt, Co-Chair of BWC, highlighted the importance of such a project to WaterWideWeb. “In resource dominated discussions, no one’s talking from the same foundation. They don’t have access to the same data. With this tool, you can start from the same foundation and the analysis tools are transparent.”

At the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, researchers are putting specific data points together in one place, a data cube. Information available via the Water Cyberinfrastructure tool includes hydrological data from the U.S. Geological Survey, information from local agencies in California, meteorological data and more.

Currently, the tool provides key water points about California’s resources but could easily be expanded to include information about all of the United States, assured Hunt. “The Water Cyberinfrastrucutre Project is unique because the synthesis of data from various sources allows users to do what they want compared to other specialized software.”

The role of centralized data sets that collect and generate reports about water information is increasingly important to the world of water, especially in California. Understanding complex water systems and how they change over time is a vital element in efficiently managing water resources.

In the example of the Water Cyberinfrastrucutre Project, a combined effort from the world of academia and the private sector provides valuable data to better understand issues related to water. Increasing demands on existing water and forecasting decreasing amounts of it require specialized and accessible systems such as the Water Cyberinfrastructure Project.  These systems allow scientists to assess the changes that are occurring in California’s watersheds over time.

Adapting to changing climates and appropriately revising current water policy is contingent upon hard facts; coherent environmental legislation can happen if scientists and experts share data in an organized and uniform way.

With the Water Cyberinfrastructure project, the physical and technological sciences are collaborating to ensure a sustainable future. But to make it there, a manageable infrastructure is essential. If the BWC Water Cyberinfrastructure project expands beyond California, it will enable policy makers to implement effective policies about water management that affect the lives of generations to come.

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2 Comments so far

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