Howitt to speak at water seminar March 28

The Williams Memorial Lecture -- “Integrating Hydrology and Economics: The Challenge of Practical Modeling” will be presented by Richard Howitt from the University of California, Davis on March 28 in the East Campus Hardin Hall Auditorium from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Howitt is a professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics and department chair at the University of California at Davis. He has been a faculty member at U.C Davis since 1975. His current research interests are in the following areas: disaggregated economic modeling methods, testing market mechanisms for the allocation of natural resources, experimental economics, and implementing empirical dynamic stochastic methods.

Howitt said: "The preponderance of evidence in the scientific community supports the premise that global climate is changing. The precise impacts of climate change on natural and man-made systems remain less certain. Estimation of climate change impacts on river flows, water supply reliability, and ecosystem responses requires the careful application of a variety of models including global or regional circulation models, decision scaling of this information, hydrologic models, and ecosystem response models.

"This presentation addresses all stages of this process, but focusses primarily on the application of hydrology models to this challenging problem. The presentation will begin with a brief description of forecasted impacts of climate change on the US. Next, techniques that appropriately translate these broad climate shifts to the watershed scale in a fashion useful for decision making are described.

"Our focus then turns to how best select appropriate hydrologic models to estimate the impacts of these changes on future hydrology. This discussion will include a review widely applied hydrologic models and a sampling of successful applications. The presentation concludes with examples of how outputs from hydrologic models have been used to estimate the range of impacts on water supply systems and eco-resources that are associated with forecasted climate change. The presentation will address current limits of these techniques and suggests how these limitations may be overcome by the next generation of future engineers and scientists."

Current applications include the optimal management of reservoirs, alternative configurations for the Sacramento Delta, a futures market for California water, the economic impacts of drought in the California, and the impacts of climate change and carbon payments.

Recently Howitt has co-authored two books on the Sacramento Delta and a third book on the future of California water management.

Howitt serves on advisory boards for the California Department of Water Resources, and U.S. Academy of Sciences.

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