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Proposed Project Activities

With community partner engagement, an interdisciplinary team of water resources researchers at PSU will identify knowledge and information gaps and and develop an integrated information system to support sustainable river basin management. The photo above shows the Willow Creek Dam in Eastern Oregon.

Activity 1. Review literature to investigate existing information regarding water resources 

To identify our current knowledge of anthropogenic impacts on various water sectors in the Columbia River basin, we will gather published and peer-reviewed information through the internet, public reports, stakeholder inputs, and scientific journals. Participating team members will collect and verify existing information across multiple water sectors with regard to climate change and land development.

Activity 2. Classify information into water sectors at multiple spatial and temporal scales 

Most current information is based on a particular study area, methodology, and temporal and spatial scale. Such individual research studies sometimes prevent us from integrating information among different sources to create new grand insight that decision makers need. To resolve this problem, we will classify the information into several categories based on water sectors and scales Additionally, we will map the classified information to identify the abundance and scarcity of information over sectors, space, and time. Space-time mapping of such information will help us prepare effective climate adaptation plans for specific water sectors in the Columbia River Basin. 

Activity 3. Identify knowledge gaps and new research needs

Most current information is insufficient due to technical limitations, or a lack of theoretical integration or measurement of heterogeneity and uncertainty. Therefore, quantifying the intrinsic uncertainty of information can help us understand confidence and develop robust climate adaptation plan. If we integrate more information in water resource management and planning, we could have higher confidence than otherwise. Also, if most information shows consistent results (changes), it could have higher confidence than dispersed results. Our team members will produce a confidence verification guideline for determining specific confidence levels (e.g., very high, high, low, and very low confidence). Information that has very low confidence may have critical knowledge gaps that could be arise from a lack of accurate theory, methodology or measurement. In such cases, new research would be proposed to better understand the subject and to narrow its uncertainty. 

Activity 4. Develop a conceptual framework of integrative basin information model and a decision support system (IBIM-DSS)

Integration of existing information regarding anthropogenic stressors is essential to planning for water sustainability and preparing for possible threats (e.g., global warming, urbanization, deforestation, etc). Although abundant climate impact studies on water-related issues have been conducted since the 1950s, practical use of scientific results for long-term water management and planning is still lagging. One of main reasons is the lack of integrated information support tools like IBIM-DSS that can provide available risk information and associated uncertainty for a particular water-related issue. IBIM-DSS consists of six steps, 1) collecting new information, 2) classifying the information, 3) evaluating the confidence of information, 4) updating the decision support tool, 5) transferring knowledge to users, and 6) gathering feedback from decision maker and users. When new information is collected (published), that information is carefully verified by professional members (PSU professors, agency specialists, etc). Concurrently, the uncertainty of that information is determined through the confidence verification process. If a system user has any questions or concerns about the information, the feedback process is activated and the information will be revised. IBIM-DSS helps us to figure out which regions and water sectors are most vulnerable, what information is more certain and important, and thus, which issues require the most attention. Additionally, IBIM-DSS can indicate what type of investigation and  methodology are needed to improve our knowledge of water sustainability in a specific region.

Activity 5. Draft a synthesis paper 

The Columbia RIver Basin is more vulnerable to global warming than most North American regions because of the key role of snowmelt in its mountain ranges. Although there have been many climate impact assessment studies, none has investigated a comprehensive study for adaptive planning of the Columbia Basin's water resources. The reorganized information for each water sector through this research will provide useful information to constitute adaptation planning to climate change. We will draft a synthesis paper about ‘Columbia Basin climate adaptation strategies based on integrated risk information’ and submit it to a peer-reviewed journal (e.g., Climatic Change).  

Activity 6. Draft a proposal for an external grant

We aim to draft a proposal of the framework of web-based IBIM-DSS through interdisciplinary meetings and workshops with the PSU team and community partners at (Watershed Councils, Metro, the Nature Conservancy, the Willamette Partnership, US Army Corp of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Geological Survey). We plan to refine and submit a proposal for an external grant in Fall 2011 (e.g., NSF).