Dr. P.A. Ty Ferré, Professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at The University of Arizona, was very busy in 2016 traveling across the U.S. and around the world fulfilling his role as the 2016 Henry Darcy Lecturer* in Groundwater Science. Ferré presented his talk, "Seeing Things Differently: Rethinking the Relationship Between Data, Models, and Decision Making," to the UA community in March 2016 as the keynote speaker for the annual El Día del Agua y La Atmósfera conference.
Ferré has been a member of the University of Arizona Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences faculty since 1999. He teaches courses in subsurface hydrology, especially vadose zone hydrology, and field methods. His students' research has focused largely on the use of noninvasive methods to monitor subsurface hydrologic processes; this has led to the testing and development of measurement methods, the integration of geophysical data into hydrologic models, and, most recently, a more general examination of how data and models can be combined to improve water resources decision making under uncertainty.
This last topic--water resources decision making under uncertainty--was the subject of Ty's 2016 Darcy Lecture. Although details evolved throughout the year, these themes were the focus of the talk:
- Although we are natural decision makers, we often lose sight of simple decision making concepts when conducting science for decision support.
- As scientists, we are often distracted by generally interesting questions that we can answer, meanwhile avoiding specific questions that require us to change our scientific approach.
- Subsurface hydrology has made major advances in integrating data and models to support decision making under uncertainty.
- There are some relatively simple ways that we might be able to advance our science to provide even better decision support.
*The National Ground Water Research and Education Foundation, or NGWREF, was founded in 1994 as an IRS-approved public charity, and is operated by the National Ground Water Association as a 501(c)(3) public foundation focused on conducting educational, research, and other charitable activities related to a broader public understanding of groundwater. NGWA, the leading worldwide advocate for professionals teaming to provide, protect, manage, and remediate groundwater, conveniently and promptly delivers an extensive range of resources contributing to member success through relationships, leading edge and emerging practices, and credible new ideas and solutions.