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Ezra's Round Table/Systems Seminar: Andrea Castelletti (Politecnico di Milano, Italy) - Soft-Path solutions for hard water problems: a journey in the drying Italian sub-alpine lake district

Friday, August 24, 2018 at 12:15pm

Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 253

Ongoing changes in global climate are altering the hydrologic regime, expanding historically observed variability as well as increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme events. Evidence of this emerging behavior has been observed worldwide, including traditionally flood sensitive regions, such as the Italian Alps, where intensive droughts have repeatedly challenged agricultural and hydropower production in the last decade. “Hard-path" solutions, such as investing in new infrastructure to expand water supply capacity, require large investments, and are becoming economically, socially and environmentally unsustainable. “Soft-path” measures, based on decentralized facilities, smart technologies, coordination mechanisms, more informed and effective decision-making, represent an interesting alternative to the hard-path approach. In the last two decades, we have been exploring the concept of soft-path solutions from multiple angles, and developing tools based on high performance computing and machine learning to facilitate its implementation in real world contexts. We have been focusing on the role of more- and better-informed decisions as well as coordination mechanism design, including financial risk hedging tools, to improve existing water management practices. In the Northern Italy lake district, extensive model-based analyses show that a soft-path approach can substantially mitigate the impact of changing climate, and help contrasting increasingly frequent and impacting droughts with little financial investment but a substantial shift in the existing water governance.

Dr. Andrea Castelletti is an associate professor of Natural Resources Management at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, and a senior scientist at ETH Zurich. He received an MSc degree in Environmental Engineering and a PhD in Information Technology from Politecnico di Milano in 1999 and 2005. He is the co-founder and head of the Hydroinformatics Lab at Politecnico di Milano.

Dr. Castelletti research interest includes water systems planning and control under uncertainty and risk, decision-making for complex engineering systems, big environmental data analytics and smart sensing, information theory and selection for environmental decision making. He is leading a group with 4 post-docs, 5 PhD students and 3 research associates, and he is involved in a number of national and international projects as coordinator or principal investigator.

Dr. Castelletti  is co-author of two international books on integrated water resources management, and more than 150 publications in international journals, book chapters and conference proceedings. He is Associate Editor of Water Resources Research, the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, and Environmental Modelling and Software.

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