WRC Headwaters Lecture Series


The Headwaters Lecture series brings internationally known water resources scholars to campus to discuss frontier research issues with the University's water community. 

Next lecture October 30, 2020 @ 3:00 p.m.

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Professional staff photoKelly M. CobournAssociate Professor
Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech

Title: Modeling feedbacks between coupled natural-human systems in lake catchments

Abstract: Coupled natural-human systems (CNHS) modeling can be used to study the two-way feedbacks between human actions and ecosystem processes. The complexity of CNHS makes it challenging to characterize the pathways by which humans and natural systems influence one another, yet understanding the full set of feedbacks is critical for developing insight into system behavior over time and across a range of conditions. This talk presents a conceptual framework and corresponding empirical modeling approach to explore these feedbacks in freshwater lake catchments. The empirical methodology illustrates an integrative strategy for coupling a suite of human and natural system models that span disciplines, including soil science, hydrology, limnology, economics, and social psychology. In an application to eutrophic Lake Mendota in Wisconsin, this framework demonstrates the connections between agricultural land-management decision making, hydrologic-solute transport, aquatic nutrient cycling, and civic engagement to protect lake water quality.