Oxford University water research at the 2015 European Geosciences Union General Assembly
There was a great turnout for the School of Geography and the Environment at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, where eight students and staff presented their latest water and climate related research findings.
The annual EGU General Assembly is the largest European geosciences event and took place this year on 12-17 April in Vienna. The meeting covers all fields of science dealing with planet Earth, including volcanology, the Earth’s internal structure and atmosphere, climate, as well as energy, water and other resources.
Our students and staff were among the 11,000 scientists at the event from 108 countries. Oxford University presence included oral and poster presentations by Associate Professor Simon Dadson, post-doctoral researchers Emily Barbour, Gianbattista Bussi, Benoit Guillod, Rachel James, Toby Marthews and Daniel Mitchell, and doctoral candidate Franziska Gaupp.
Franziska Gaupp presented research on the role of storage capacity in coping with water variability in large river basins. Using a global water balance model, her analysis shows that current storage is able to buffer water variability in most basins. However, hotspots of water insecurity were found in South Asia, Northern China, the West Coast of the United States, Spain, Australia and several basins across Africa.
Emily Barbour’s research examines the complex relationship between water resource management and poverty in the Bangladesh Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta. Her poster shares experience with engaging policymakers and stakeholders to discuss the impacts of climate and socio-economic change on water availability and quality.
The map featured on this page shows a topographic index developed by Toby Marthews and colleagues – a measure of the ‘propensity for soil to become saturated’ – which will be an invaluable resource for use in large-scale hydrological modelling. In a second poster, Toby presented findings from a study which sought to find out if human-induced climate change contributed to the devastating 2014 drought in the Horn of Africa. The modelling results suggest no human influence on the likelihood of low rainfall but clear signals in other drivers of drought.
It’s difficult to study extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, because, by definition, they don’t occur very often. A way to overcome this issue is to use large ensembles of climate model simulations to produce ‘synthetic’ weather events. This was the topic of Benoit Guillod’s talk which he illustrated with an example of synthetic drought events in the UK being generated for the MaRIUS project (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity) in order to better understand and predict droughts. In a second talk Benoit presented results on the impact of soil moisture on rainfall – an important interaction in the climate system.
Taking a more local perspective, Gianbattista Bussi spoke about his research on water quality in the River Thames basin which analyses the dynamics of fine sediments. Another strand of the work models the growth and movement of phytoplankton – microscopic algae which are an important food source for river wildlife, but over-growth can lead to algae bloom, depleted oxygen levels and the death of fish and other species.
It was fantastic to see so many of our researchers in Vienna sharing their insights and knowledge about the Earth’s water and climate systems.
- Emily Barbour, poster | Integrating science, policy and stakeholder perspectives for water resource management
- Gianbattista Bussi, talk | Analysis of the fine sediment dynamics in the River Thames catchment (UK) using a sediment rating curve approach
- Gianbattista Bussi, poster | Dynamic modelling of five different phytoplankton groups in the River Thames (UK)
- Franziska Gaupp, talk | The role of storage capacity in coping with intra- and inter-annual water variability in large river basins
- Benoit Guillod, talk | Generating extreme weather event sets from very large ensembles of regional climate models
- Benoit Guillod, talk | Soil moisture-precipitation feedback: reconciling negative spatial coupling with a positive temporal feedback via moisture recycling
- Rachel James, poster | How can research about extreme events and impacts be developed to support international climate policy?
- Rachel James, talk | Using climate model experiments to explore difference between degrees of global warming: lessons from a study of African precipitation
- Rachel James, talk | Process-based assessment of regional climate model projections over Southern Africa
- Toby Marthews, poster | The 2014 drought in the Horn of Africa: Attribution of meteorological drivers
- Toby Marthews, poster | High-resolution global topographic index values for use in large-scale hydrological modelling