Distinguished Lecture Series

The Global Institute for Water Security and Global Water Futures are proud to present a weekly virtual seminar series featuring top water experts from around the world. These lectures are free and open to all.

2021 Schedule

All lectures will be held on Wednesdays at 10:00 am Saskatchewan Time (CST-6). 

Lecture Date Lecturer Lecture Title  

September 15, 2021

Hannah Cloke,
Reading University, UK

Preparing for Floods Details

September 22, 2021

Gia Destouni,
Stockholm University, Sweden

Large-scale hydrological co-variation patterns: essential for water security, emerging from data, but not captured by modeling and reanalysis Details

September 29, 2021

Andrea Rinaldo,
Ecole Plytechnique Fédéral Lausanne, Italy

River networks as ecological corridors. A coherent ecohydrological perspective for global water security Details

October 6, 2021

Alexander Gelfan,
Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

Climate change and threats to water security Details

October 13, 2021

Renee Brooks,
United States Environmental Protection Agency, USA

Assessing climate impacts on river water sources using basin specific isoscapes Details

October 20, 2021

Theresa Blume,
GFZ German Research Centre for Geoscience

Field observations of hydrological flow path evolution over 10 millennia Details

October 27, 2021

Upmanu Lall,
Columbia University, USA

Gloval to Local Hydroclimatic Networks – Dynamics and Predictability Details

November 3, 2021

Dave Tarboton,
Utah Water Research Laboratory, USA

HydroShare: A system for data sharing and collaboration in hydrology by hydrologists for hydrologists Details



Hannah Cloke — Professor of Hydrology, Reading University, UK 

Preparing for Floods

I will take you on a journey across continents looking at why floods happen, exploring some of the earth system modelling technology we can use to forecast floods days and even weeks ahead, and how early warnings can save lives and livelihoods. We'll also dip into my beginnings as a hydrologist digging rivers on a sandy beach as a little girl, and i hope to convince you that you need both giant computer models and imagination to prepare for flooding. 

Georgia (Gia) Destouni - Professor of Hydrology, Hydrogeology and Water Resources, Stockholm University, Sweden

Large-scale hydrological co-variation patterns: essential for water security, emerging from data, but not captured by modeling and reanalysis

Large-scale co-variations of evapotranspiration and runoff fluxes along with soil moisture changes are essential for land-vegetation-climate interactions and hydro-climatic hazards. Robustly and consistently across different world parts and climates, recent study of observation-based datasets shows the strongest large-scale hydrological relationship to be that between soil moisture and runoff, while the relationships between precipitation and runoff, and between soil moisture and evapotranspiration emerge as clearly weaker. The predominantly strongest, linear soil moisture-runoff relationship is also found to be the most misrepresented by Earth System Models and reanalysis products, followed by that between precipitation and runoff, which is largely overestimated.

Andrea Rinaldo - Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources, Ecole Plytechnique Fédéral Lausanne, Italy

River networks as ecological corridors. A coherent ecohydrological perspective for global water security

This talk draws together several lines of argument to suggest that an integrated ecohydrological framework, which blends laboratory, field and theoretical evidence focused on hydrologic controls on the biota developed in my ECHO Lab at EPFL, has contributed substantially to our understanding of the function of river networks as ecological corridors. This function is relevant to a number of key ecological processes. These processes control the spatial ecology of species and biodiversity in the river basin, the population dynamics and biological invasions along waterways, and the spread of waterborne disease — thus affecting safe drinking water for still large populations worldwide. As revealing examples, here I shall describe metapopulation persistence in fluvial ecosystems, metacommunity predictions of fish diversity patterns in large river basins, geomorphic controls imposed by the fluvial landscape on elevational gradients of species' richness, zebra mussel invasions of an iconic river network, and the spread of proliferative kidney disease in salmonid fish. My main tenet is that ecological processes in the fluvial landscape are constrained by hydrology and by the matrix for ecological interactions (the directional dispersal embedded in fluvial and host/pathogen mobility networks). Accounting for these drivers requires spatial descriptions that have now produced a remarkably broad range of results which are worth being recapped in a context illustrating the coherent framework that produced them. In brief, the overarching theme of my talk is an investigation on how the physical structure of the environment affects biodiversity, species invasions, survival and extinction, and waterborne disease spread.

Alexander Gelfan
Professor of Hydrology, Moscow State University
Director, Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences,

Climate change and threats to water security

The current understanding of the impact of climate change on threats to water security. The lecture focuses on the issues related to changes in water resources as well as frequency and magnitude of floods. Special attention will be paid on the methodological issues and their possible solutions.

Renee Brooks
Plant Physiologist, United States Environmental Protection Agency, USA

Assessing climate impacts on river water sources using basin specific isoscapes

Climate fluctuation affects the timing, magnitude and spatial distribution of precipitation and streamflow across the continent. We used the stable isotopic composition of water to understand which regions of a river basin are contributing water to rivers, and how those water sources are changing over time. We found the underlying basin geology plays a strong role in determining river flow vulnerability to a changing climate. Reconciling the demands between human use and biological instream requirements during summer will be challenging under changing climatic conditions, but understanding basin-specific drivers influencing flow will help manage water supplies.

Theresa Blume
Leader of the Working Group Hillslope-and Ecohydrology,
GFZ German Research Centre for Geoscience, Germany

Field observations of hydrological flow path evolution over 10 millennia

We investigated the coevolution of soils, vegetation and hydrological flow paths along two chronosequences of glacial moraines in the Swiss Alps. This investigation included irrigation experiments using dye tracers at the plot scale and stable water isotopes at the hillslope scale, as well as detailed soil physical characterization. Comparison of the two chronosequences, with one developing on siliceous and one on calcareous parent material provides insight into the influence of geology on this understudied aspect of landscape evolution.

Upmanu Lall
Professor of Engineering,
Columbia University, USA

Global to Local Hydroclimatic Networks – Dynamics and Predictability

Water makes the world go around. The centrality of the global hydrologic cycle to climate dynamics is self-evident. Yet, temperature as the quasi-equilibrium state of a slowly changing planet emerged as the canary in the mine, and continues to be the focal point of the politico-scientific climate discussion. Hydrologists, perhaps because of their primary focus on terrestrial processes, have failed to rise as the voice of scientific inspiration for understanding planetary climate dynamics through the lens of the hydrologic cycle. Rather, they have unwittingly become consumers of climate change projections, and research in the field is dominated by work on the propagation of these projections through the terrestrial hydrologic cycle. The retrospective analysis of the climate models applied to the 20th century is impressive primarily in the magnitude of the biases in precipitation at regional to local scales relative to observations. It is also impressive in the failure to capture the seasonal to inter-annual to decadal dynamics of atmospheric water vapor transport and precipitation that ultimately determine persistent as well as episodic hydrologic extremes and ecological, pedological, agricultural and economic futures. "Bias correction" of precipitation statistics by hydrologists is a nonsensical and purely operational reaction to this situation, a denigration of basic scientific principles, and with unknown utility for the extrapolation exercises the users engage in. "Fixing" precipitation inputs in this way still does not address the gross errors in temporal dynamics and regimes that the climate models demonstrate that are then carried through into the hydrological predictions.

This talk will strive to introduce the much less popular world of research, in which diagnostic analyses of climate dynamics reveal incredible structure and predictability for global to regional to local aspects of the hydrologic cycle - emergent regime like phenomena in planetary spatio-temporal ocean-atmosphere interactions that lead to dynamic networks of organized moisture transport and precipitation, that then impart spatio-temporal structure to flows on terrestrial drainage networks. These have potential predictability at operational and planning time scales. I will stress the importance of empirical diagnostic and predictive modeling for understanding the nature of the system, for providing benchmarks that newtonian or hybrid statistical-dynamical models of the underlying physics need to consider as performance metrics, and for applications in risk management of water resource systems.

David Tarboton
Professor and Director,
Utah Water Research Laboratory, USA

HydroShare: A system for data sharing and collaboration in hydrology by hydrologists for hydrologists

HydroShare is a web-based repository and hydrologic information system operated by the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) for users to share, collaborate around, and publish data, models, scripts, and applications associated with water related research. This presentation will step away from the science of water security breakthroughs and instead describe the development of CUAHSI HydroShare with a focus on the information technology key to supporting the transparency and reproducibility needed to enhance trust in the findings of hydrologic research by making hydrologic information more findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR), and through linked computational systems simplifying the workflows needed for hydrologic modeling and analysis.

Past Lecture Series

The Global Institute for Water Security and Global Water Futures would like to thank all of our speakers. Please enjoy these recorded lectures below or on the GIWS YouTube Channel.

Distinguished Lecture Series Fall 2020 Playlist

  1. Dr. Ilja van Meerveld, University of Zurich:
    Connectivity of the dashed lines: hydrological variation along intermittent streams
  2. Dr. Ana Barros, Duke University:
    Running the Distance in Cogwheels - Multiscale Land-Atmosphere Interactions and Hydroclimatic Change
  3. Brad Wilcox, Texas A&M:
    The Ecohydrology of Woody Plant Encroachment: How the Conversion of Grasslands to Woodlands is Altering the Water Cycle
  4. Cathy Wilson, Los Alamos National Lab:
    Moving toward the next generation of Arctic land models
  5. Deb Perrone, UC Santa Barbara:
    Deeper groundwater drilling an unsustainable solution to groundwater depletion
  6. Ross Woods, University of Bristol:
    Classification and Similarity for Global Hydrologic Prediction
  7. Beth Boyer, Penn State University:
    Coupled Hydrological and Biogeochemical Cycles in Watersheds: Responses to Anthropogenic Changes in the Critical Zone
  8. Markus Weiler, Freiburg University:
    Which rainfall events produces the largest flash flood?
  9. Stefan Krause, University of Birmingham (UK):
    River corridors as global hotspots for microplastic accumulation, degradation and environmental impacts
  10. Genevieve Ali, University of Guelph:
    Ecohydrological connectivity – What do we know and what’s next?

Distinguished Lecture Series 2019 Playlist

  1. Dr. Reed Maxwell, Colorado School of Mines:
    Scientific discovery through computational hydrology
  2. Dr. Bart Nijssen, University of Washington:
    Breakthroughs in Process-Based Hydrological Modeling
  3. Dr. Adrian Harpold, University of Nevada:
    How Will Changing Snow Change Streamflow?
  4. Dr. David Hannah, University of Birmingham UK:
    Water in a changing environment: too much, too little, too hot?
  5. Dr. Bridget Scanlon, UT Austin:
    Assessing Water Resources at Global to Local Scales
  6. Dr. Martyn Tranter, Bristol University:
    Biological darkening of the Greenland Ice Sheet – greater areas of dark ice in a warming climate?
  7. Dr. Nandita Basu, University of Waterloo:
    Protecting our Waters: Managing Nutrient Legacies to Accelerate Water Quality Improvement
  8. Dr. Karen Kidd, McMaster University:
    Local through global influences of human activities on mercury in aquatic ecosystems

Distinguished Lecture Series 2018 Playlist

  1. Dr. Ciaran Harman, Johns Hopkins University:
    The modern theory of catchment transit times and its discontents
  2. Dr. Martyn Clark, Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
    Advances in continental-domain hydrologic modeling and prediction
  3. Dr. Witold Krajewski, Professor at the University of Iowa:
    Is it the model or is it the rainfall?
  4. Dr. Adam Ward, University of Indiana:
    Breakthroughs in river corridor research
  5. Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar, University of Toronto:
    Search for surviving remnants of early water on Earth
  6. Dr. Steven Loheide, University of Wisconsin-Madison:
    Two-way interactions between groundwater and food systems
  7. October 31, 2018 - Dr. András Bárdossy University of Stuttgart:
    Impossible mission of hydrological modelling
  8. Dr. Alex Konings, Stanford University:
    Using microwave remote sensing to study plant water stress response
  9. Dr. Jennifer McIntosh, University of Arizona:
    Human impacts on the deep terrestrial water cycle

Distinguished Lecture Series 2017 Playlist

  1. Dr. William Dietrich, University Califorina, Berkeley:
    The soil is not enough -- Going Inside Hillslopes to Understand Moisture Return to the Atmosphere, and Controls on Tree Distribution, Stream Ecosystems and Landscape Evolution
  2. Dr. Ximing Cai, University of Illinois:
    The Human Dimension of Water Resources Systems: Implications for Research and Management Practices
  3. Dr. Kathleen Weathers, Cary Institute:
    Ecological Puzzles and a Passion for Lakes: Cyanobacteria, Sensors, Citizens and Scientists
  4. Dr. Ying Fan Reinfelder, Rutgers University:
    Three Hydrologic Depths of the Earth’s Critical Zone
  5. Dr. Roy Brouwer, University of Waterloo:
    Integrated Economics into Water Policy and Decision Making
  6. Dr. Scott Tyler, University of Nevada, Reno:
    Advances in Cryosphere Monitoring: Measuring Antarctic Ice Shelf Stability and Ocean Dynamics using Fiber-Optic Sensing
  7. Dr. Tim Burt, Durham University:
    Dancing in the Rain: On the Value of Fieldwork in the Hydrological Sciences
  8. Dr. Jeff McDonnell, University of Saskatchewan:
    Compartmentalization of the Terrestrial Water Cycle

Distinguished Lecture Series 2016 Playlist

  1. Dr. Günter Blöschl, Vienna University of Technology:
    Breakthroughs in Flood Research
  2. Dr. Hoshin Gupta, University of Arizona:
    A General Theory of Learning with Models & Data
  3. Dr. Susan Hubbard, UC Berkeley:
    Effects of Climate Change on Watershed Dynamics: Insights from Geophysical Methods
  4. Dr. Alberto Montanari, University of Bologna:
    Seeking a Step Forward in Research and Education in Water Science
  5. Dr. Doerthe Tetzlaff, University of Aberdeen:
    Advances in Ecohydrology in Changing Northern Regions
  6. Dr. Chris Soulsby, University of Aberdeen:
    Breakthroughs in Tracer-Aided Modelling
  7. Dr. Jim Hall, University of Oxford:
    Risk-Based Water Resources Planning Under Uncertainty
  8. Dr. Susan L. Brantley, Penn State University:
    How Rocks, Water and Living Organisms Turn Rock into Soil
  9. Dr. Dara Entekhabi, MIT:
    Tracking the Global Water Cycle with the NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive Mission

Distinguished Lecture Series 2015 Playlist

  1. Dr. Anne Nolin, Oregon State University:
    Advances in measuring, modeling and understanding the consequences of climate change on snow hydrology
  2. Dr. Sally Thompson, University of California Berkeley:
    Trying to understand four decades of hydrologic change in a rapidly urbanizing, minimally-monitored basin, in the context of a growing water crisis
  3. Dr. Kent Keller, Washington State University:
    Chemical weathering: Challenges for Earth, life and water scientists
  4. Dr. Claudia Pahl-Wostl, University of Osnabrück:
    Water governance in the face of gobal change: From understanding to transformation
  5. Dr. Klement Tockner, Freie Universität Berlin:
    A global view on future major water engineering projects
  6. Dr. Charles Vorosmarty, City University of New York:
    The freshwater debates: Simmering battles in the water sciences, assessment and management communities
  7. Dr. Brian Berkowitz, Weizmann Institute of Science:
    The fastest path is not a straight line: Preferential flows in soils and groundwater
  8. Dr. Dorthe Wildenschild, Oregon State University:
    Demystifying the pore: Using high-resolution imaging to better understand fluid flow in porous media
  9. Dr. Richard Vogel, Tufts University:
    Hydrologic design in the Anthropocene

Distinguished Lecture Series 2014 Playlist

  1. Dr. James Kirchner, ETH Zurich:
    Breakthroughs in water quality analysis
  2. Dr. Sampurno Bruijnzeel, Free University Amsterdam:
    Breakthroughs in Tropical landuse change impacts
  3. Dr. Dave White, Arizona State University:
    Breakthroughs in water sustainability in semi-arid regions
  4. Dr. Hubert Savenije, Delft University of Technology:
    Breakthroughs in landscape-based rainfall-runoff
  5. Dr. Kevin Bishop, Swedish University of Agricultural Studies:
    Breakthroughs in the biogeochemistry of Nordic aquatic systems
  6. Dr. Kamini Singha, Colorado School of Mines:
    Quantifying transient storage with electrical geophysics
  7. Dr. Amilcare Porporato, Duke University:
    Soil moisture dynamics and stoichiometry controls on soil nutrient cycling
  8. Dr. Christina Tague, University of California Santa Barbara:
    Forest ecology and drought: Why geology matters!
  9. Dr. Aaron Wolf, Oregon State University:
    Breakthroughs in water negotiations: Rationality, spirituality and shared waters
  10. Dr. Sonia Seneviratne, ETH Zurich:
    Effects of land hydrology on atmospheric processes and climate change

Distinguished Lecture Series 2013 Playlist

  1. Dr. Dani Or, ETH Zurich:
    Breakthroughs in soil physics
  2. Dr. John Selker, Oregon State University:
    Breakthroughs in instrumentation
  3. Dr. Peter Troch, The University of Arizona:
    Breakthroughs in lab experiments
  4. Dr. Keith Beven, Lancaster University:
    Breakthroughs in uncertainty estimation
  5. Dr. Larry Band, University of North Carolina:
    Breakthroughs in hydroecological modelling
  6. Dr. Harry Vereecken, Bonn University:
    Breakthroughs in watershed observatory networks
  7. Dr. Leroy Poff, Colorado State University:
    Breakthroughs in instream flow modelling
  8. Dr. Efi Foufoula-Georgious, University of Minnesota:
    Breakthroughs in engineering hydrology
  9. Dr. Irena Creed, University of Western Ontario:
    Breakthroughs in aquatic ecosystem science
  10. Dr. Carol Kendall, United States Geological Survey:
    Breakthroughs in isotope hydrology
  11. Dr. Siva Sivapalan, University of Illinois:
    Breakthroughs in socio-hydrology