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The University of Utah Explores Society, Water and Climate

The Utah College of Social and Behavioral Science hosted an intriguing breakfast presentation last Friday at the Red Butte Garden Classroom on the topics of Society, Water, and Climate.

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Drs. Rick Forster and Andrea Brunelle. Photo credit: Annette Barrett, University of Utah.

Drs. Rick Forster, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Social and Behavioral Science, and Andrea Brunelle, Geography Chair, presented on the University of Utah’s new interdisciplinary faculty cluster, an effort to focus research and use a multifaceted approach to addressing challenges related to society, water, and climate. The new faculty cluster includes an ecohydrologist, an air quality scientist and a glaciologist. The addition of a social or behavioral scientist is forthcoming. “This transformative cluster connects research on hydrology, air quality, climate change, societal response, and policy, seeking to meld multiple scientific perspectives to lead society towards sustainable water solutions in a changing world.” (Society, Water, and Climate)

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Dr. Rick Forster and Tyler Poulson, SLCgreen Photo credit: Annette Barrett, University of Utah.

Drs. Rick Forster and Andrea Brunelle also shared experiences and some great photos from their own field-based research.  Dr. Forster studies glaciers and seasonal snow cover response to climate change. He showed some incredible footage of dripping water, despite air temperatures well below freezing, found when ice cores were lifted to the surface at a research site in Greenland.  The water had come from a perennial aquifer under Greenland’s Ice Sheet.

“Climate change will bring increased temperatures combined with likely increases in the severity, frequency, and duration of weather extremes, such as droughts and floods. Changes in water availability due to climate change will be further complicated by use of water for agriculture, changes in land use, and population growth. In many regions of the world, issues centered on climate change and water availability will profoundly shape society in the next century. Addressing these issues requires a focused, transdisciplinary effort from scientists with expertise in society, water and climate.” (The Theoretical Framework of the Society, Water and Climate Research Cluster)

This collaborative approach is an important piece in finding sustainable solutions to issues of society, water, and climate in the future.

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