Climate-Informed Adaptive Water Supply Planning for Uncertain Future - Dr. Sarah Fletcher, Stanford University
Sarah Fletcher, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Center Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University
Abstract: Water planners face the challenge of ensuring reliable, affordable water supplies in a changing and uncertain climate. Adaptive planning approaches, in which planners delay or change action and respond as the climate changes over time, have the potential to enable resilience without unnecessary, expensive infrastructure development. However, adaptive planning also poses a risk: When will we have learned enough to adapt? And what changes should we make? These questions are highly dependent on the local climate. Regions facing slow, long-term change in average precipitation require different responses than those facing increased frequency of short, intense droughts. In this talk, I present progress towards a computational framework for climate-informed adaptive planning using three case studies. In Mombasa, Kenya, near-term observations about climate change allow planners to improve predictions of long-term precipitation and delay storage investments. In Santa Barbara, CA, decentralized water technology can mitigate the impact of uncertainty in drought severity and duration. In Santa Cruz, CA, intense droughts pose a threat to household water affordability.
About the speaker: Sarah Fletcher is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Center Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Her research focuses on water resources planning and climate change adaptation. She addresses these questions using computational systems models, integrating methods from hydrology, climate science, policy analysis, and data science to inform decision-making around critical environmental challenges. Sarah holds a PhD in Engineering Systems from MIT, an S.M. in Technology and Policy from MIT, and a B.A. in Physics and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. In her free time, she enjoys climbing, hiking, playing the violin, and reading novels. You can learn more about her work at www.fletcherlab.science.