Darcy Lecture: Dr. Chen Zhu

Monday, October 4 at 3:00pm to 4:00pm

A. Paul Schaap Science Center, Auditorium 1000
35 East 12th Street, Holland, MI 49423-3605

“Watershed-Scale Hydrological Models as a Community CyberPlatform for Research, Teaching, and Service to Society”
Dr. Chen Zhu
Monday, October 4, 2021

The grand challenge of sustainability and climate adaptation research requires us as hydrological scientists to transform how we conduct science and how we communicate scientific results to society. Being a relatively politically neutral topic, water resource planning is continually on the docket and cries out for effective communication between scientists and policymakers. Projections of changes in the hydrological cycle are key components of local, regional, and national planning efforts and at the same time provide “upstream” data for “downstream” climate adaptation research such as biodiversity and species migration.

In this presentation, Dr. Zhu will share the trials and tribulations of developing a community cyberplatform,, the core of which is coupled surface-water and groundwater models of the Wabash River basin. The water cycle is predicted to the year 2100 under two Representative Concentration Pathways (4.5 and 8.5) using climate data from an ensemble of 10 general circulation climate models. The models are run and stored on Indiana University’s vast supercomputers. A large team across many disciplines at the university has been assembled for the effort.

We have gone a step beyond the typical academic research project in making the models available to researchers, practitioners, and the public. The outputs of the hydrological models are visualized with detailed maps and interactive graphs. Data are available for download, and “power users” can run their own models. To help K-12 schools cope with the pandemic, online teaching modules have been developed to allow students to explore water availability under various climate change scenarios near their hometowns. The cyberplatform has attracted keen interest from state and federal agencies, utilities, NGOs, and municipalities in the historically water-rich Wabash River basin. Many challenges remain as we endeavor to advance capabilities in the hindcast, nowcast, and forecast of Earth’s critical zone processes, and at the same time to meaningfully engage regional stakeholders and the public. As hydrological scientists, we have an opportunity to play a critical role in a sustainable future.

Dr. Chen Zhu is a professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the Haydn Murray Chair at Indiana University. He is also an adjunct professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and School of Public Health at Indiana University. He specializes in water’s reactions with minerals and rocks, exploring interactions among the hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere.

The 2006 recipient of the John Hem Award from the National Ground Water Association in recognition of his significant contributions to modeling the chemical evolution of water, Zhu has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Mineralogical Society of America, and the Geological Society of America. His book with Greg Anderson, Environmental Applications of Geochemical Modeling published by Cambridge University Press, is used as a textbook at universities around the world.

Zhu holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University, an M.Sc. from the University of Toronto, a B.S. from the Chengdu College of Geology, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He was also a Fulbright Scholar.

Event Type

Academics, Natural & Applied Sciences Division

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