Characterizing Groundwater-Climate-Irrigation Dynamics in the United States

Tuesday, April 26, 2016: 2:50 p.m.
Confluence Ballroom B (The Westin Denver Downtown)
Sasmita Sahoo, Ph.D. , Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, United States
Tess Russo, Ph.D. , Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

Groundwater is a vital and dynamic resource which needs to be properly assessed, especially in a changing climate. In the United States and many developing agricultural regions around the world, groundwater is a major source of irrigation. Unfortunately, climate change and increasing demand for freshwater has threatened its sustainability and significant depletion has been noticed in most principal aquifers across the United States. Therefore, the understanding of long-term impacts of climate variability and change is a key challenge in order to address sustainability management strategies at regional/global scales. This study analyzes groundwater level spatio-temporal variability with response to changing climate and surface hydrologic conditions. Several studies have investigated relationships between groundwater levels and large scale climate patterns, however we present a high resolution analysis of groundwater level with local precipitation, ET, stream discharge, and modeled irrigation consumption over the contiguous United States. Several statistical methods were applied to assess the influence of these variables on groundwater level fluctuations and to explain the spatio-temporal variance of the time-series. These methods include spectral analysis, coherence analysis, and cross-correlation analysis along with impact of lags in the hydrologic time-series. The results obtained through these statistical techniques show significant impacts of climate signals on groundwater levels and thus, improve our understanding of the aquifer system behavior as well as how water level sensitivity varies with forcing changes across the United States.

Sasmita Sahoo, Ph.D., Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, United States
Dr. Sasmita Sahoo is a postdoctoral research associate at Pennsylvania State University under Dr. Tess A. Russo studying effect of climate change on groundwater resources in United States. She completed her Ph. D. in groundwater hydrology from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India under the guidance of Dr. Madan Kumar Jha. Preceding this, she received her M. Tech. degree in water resources development and management from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. She obtained her B. Tech. degree in agricultural engineering from the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar, India. During her graduate studies she has received various prestigious awards such as Prof. S.C. Puranic young scientist award (2012) for best paper presentation at IGWC Conference, India, best student’s paper award (third prize) at ICEST 2014, USA and Institution of Engineers (India) young engineers award 2014-2015. Her research interests focus on groundwater modeling and management using statistical techniques, soft-computing tools and numerical modeling methods. Ms. Sasmita Sahoo is a life member of the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), the Indian Society of Agricultural Engineers (ISAE), Member of Asia-Pacific Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering Society (APCBEES), and student member of Association of Global Groundwater Scientists (AGGS).

Tess Russo, Ph.D., Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Tess Russo is a hydrologist who researches hydrologic system responses to environmental change with the objective of informing restoration and management decisions. She is currently the RL Slingerland Early Career Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Penn State. Her work includes quantifying components of the groundwater budget, modeling vadose zone infiltration rates, and assessing impacts of agricultural intensification on water resources. Tess is primarily a physical hydrologist who uses numerical and statistical models to characterize and project hydrologic system flows; however she also works on several geochemical projects measuring and modeling the fate and transport of nutrients and trace metals. Tess has research projects in east Africa, India, Papua New Guinea, Colombia, and the United States.