Human-induced Perturbations to the Terrestrial Water Cycle: a Multi-scale Modeling Approach

Weekly Colloquium on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 4 pm in Harshbarger 206 ~ Refreshments at 3:45 pm


Dr. Maoyi Huang joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in January 2010. Prior to joining PNNL, she was a research assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 2008-2009, and a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Global Ecology at Carnegie Institution for Science from 2005-2008. She earned her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2005 from the University of California at Berkeley, with a focus on surface water hydrology and land surface modeling.

Her research interest lies in the study of carbon, water, and energy budgets at the regional scale in the context of land-use and climate change using earth system science approaches. She developed an ecosystem model that was designed specifically to quantify changes in carbon storage and fluxes following forest disturbance in humid tropical forests and applied it to investigate the impacts of selective logging on carbon budgets in the tropical forests over Brazilian Amazon. She also developed software to synthesize the measurements from eddy-covariance flux towers and other ground-based instruments in tropical regions such as Hawaii and SE Asia. These measurements are combined with remote sensing measurements and models to assessing the dynamics and consequences of alien tree invasion, rubber tree plantation, and climate change in those regions. While at Berkeley, she worked on the development of land surface models and/or hydrological models, and the applications of these models at watershed/regional scales offline or within coupled land-atmosphere systems. She implemented a dynamic representation of surface- and groundwater interactions into the Variable Infiltration Capacity land surface model (VIC-ground), developed two subsurface flow parameterizations for land surface models, and coupled VIC-ground to the regional climate model MM5.


The terrestrial hydrological cycle has been greatly influenced by human activities, such as replacement of natural vegetation with cropland and pasture, water use (e.g., irrigation), and flow regulations via the reservoir system. At regional to global scales, land and water management activities alter seasonal cycles as well as the magnitudes and frequency of extremes of key hydrologic components, such as evapotranspiration, terrestrial water storage, and streamflow. At local to watershed scales, such perturbations propagate along stream networks through stream-aquifer-land interactions, with important implications to biogeochemical and ecological processes in river corridors along the world’s increasing number of dam-regulated rivers.
In this talk, I will review my research activities toward understanding and quantifying these complex human-Earth system interactions using models and measurements. At the regional scale, potential changes in future land use, irrigation demand, and flow regimes under CMIP5 scenarios in the contiguous U.S. were simulated and analyzed using relevant modules in the Platform for Regional Integrated Modeling and Analysis developed at PNNL. At the local scale, a fully coupled three-dimensional surface and subsurface land model has been developed and applied to a site strongly influenced by a hydro-electronic dam to simulate three-way interactions among river water, groundwater, and land surface processes. Continuous monitoring platforms were also established at the land surface and in the hyporheic zone and aquifer, providing valuable opportunities for process-level understanding and model-data integration. Finally, my future research directions will be discussed.