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Climate Change Seminar - Planning Our Water Resources Systems for a Changing Climate

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 3:35pm to 4:35pm

Plant Science Building, 233

Led by: Scott Steinschneider (Biological & Environmental Engineering)


Abstract:  How should you plan a water system for long-term climate changes when you don’t know what those changes are going to be? This is one of the grand challenges facing water resource planners charged with providing society with one of its most basic needs. Hydrologic systems are arguably one of the most sensitive natural systems to long-term climate change, but projections of driving climate variables (e.g., temperature and precipitation) at spatial scales relevant for these systems are highly uncertain. These uncertainties are further confounded by the diverse array of hydrologic settings that prevail across the globe, with their own histories of infrastructure development and governance, leading to adaptation strategies that are inherently local and thus difficult to generalize. This talk presents a history of emergent strategies to adapt water systems to climate change, with a focus on major theoretical developments and instances of their real-world application. I highlight the importance of other considerations for water systems planning besides climate to contextualize the issue of climate change within the complex web of other challenges faced by resource planners and managers. The talk concludes with some of my own thoughts on ways to move towards a sustainable water future in an ever-changing world.  


The 2016 Cornell University Climate Change Seminar meets Monday afternoons through May 9. This university-wide seminar provides important views on the critical issue of climate change, drawing from many perspectives and disciplines. Experts from both Cornell University and other universities will present an overview of the science of climate change and climate change models, the implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and food systems, and provide important economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue.

The seminar is free and open to the Cornell and Ithaca Community at large, and will be videotaped and available via Webex.

Organized and sponsored by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future

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Event Type



Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Sustainability



Scott Steinschneider

Speaker Affiliation

Biological and Environmental Engineering

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