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May Integrated Modeling Workshop Brought Together International Experts

July 2015
Pretty Delta

The Delta Stewardship Council and the National Science Foundation sponsored an Integrated Modeling Workshop May 21-22 at the University of California, Davis, to explore ways to improve the development and application of modeling for multipurpose management of changing estuarine systems.


“Like many estuarine systems, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta needs to revolutionize how models and data are developed and integrated to support adaptive management,” said Chris Enright, senior water resources engineer with the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Science Program.


"We have outstanding models of key system processes like hydrodynamics, transport, and food webs,” Enright said, “however we have not done a good job integrating these components to assess and explain the impacts of water operations, flood protection, and restoration decisions. We need great models, great modeling community arrangements, and great decision support systems to link technical analyses skillfully to management decisions."


Organized by the Council’s Delta Science Program and the U.C. Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the two-day workshop brought together experts from Europe, Asia and across the U.S. Potential solutions were identified and discussed from multiple perspectives: government, academia, NGOs, consultants and stakeholders.


Approaches discussed included:


  • Community modeling leverages the expertise of many public, private, NGO, and academic researchers for understanding complex environmental problems and supporting adaptive management.
  • Public domain models and data can include open source and more proprietary and controlled approaches to develop software and data.
  • Integrated Environmental Modeling uses information technologies to couple independently developed models.


The workshop organizers are preparing a white paper that will summarize key findings of the workshop. The paper is expected to be available in Fall 2015. Some key findings include a strong recognition that water and ecosystem solutions will be found at the intersection between water physics, chemistry and ecological understanding. Yet modeling is currently fragmented within university, consulting firm, and agency “silos” that don’t explain effects of proposed solutions adequately. Based on examples from around the world, consensus emerged on the need for the modeling community to share models and data within a community “repository” to foster cross-disciplinary integration and reproducibility.


The white paper will propose an independent Delta modeling and data center guided by a broad stakeholder council to focus on integrated model development and analysis of management questions.


The National Science Foundation and Delta Stewardship Council sponsored the event in partnership with the California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum and the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research and the U.C. Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)