Studying Land Use and River Networks


Two MSI Principal Investigators are in a group that recently was awarded an NSF Water Sustainability and Climate grant. The grant is for $4.3 million over five years. Professor Efi Foufoula-Georgiou (Civil Engineering, MSI Fellow) is the lead researcher on the grant. One of the other researchers is Assistant Professor Karen Gran (Geological Sciences), from the Duluth campus. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is the lead institution on this grant.


The research this grant will fund concerns the impacts of land use and climate change on water quality and ecosystem health. It will use the Mississippi River as a prototype and will particularly study the interaction between land use and river network processes.


Professor Foufoula-Georgiou’s research group uses MSI resources to support their work studying precipitation and water systems. Using data received from a number of sources, the group is analyzing and modeling rainfall across large portions of the earth’s surface. The datasets for both the precipitation measurements and for geological features (river networks, channels, etc.) are very large, necessitating the use of powerful computing capabilities and parallel computational capacity. Professor Foufoula-Georgiou is on the faculty at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and is the director of the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics.


Professor Gran uses MSI in her studies of the sediment in the Le Sueur River Basin in support of work by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which seeks to evaluate and control the condition of the river. The Gran group studies the sediment load of the river by taking measurements in various ways. MSI is used to store large spatial datasets used in the development and execution of the sediment routing model and to facilitate data sharing between researchers. This work was included in the MSI Annual Research Highlights 2011.


More information about the NSF grant can be found in the UMNews news release.