Please join us for a Woods Seminar with Nandita Basu, University of Waterloo.
Water quality is under severe threat, from increasing incidences of algal blooms and hypoxic zones in inland and coastal waters, to climate change and wildfires threatening our drinking water supplies, to emerging contaminants from rapid urbanization and concentrated livestock operations. Despite widespread implementation of a range of conservation measures, the last few decades have seen a lack of improvement, and sometime even a deterioration of the water quality in surface and groundwater bodies. Our work shows that such lack of response can be attributed partly to legacy stores of nutrients that can accumulate in the landscape over decades of intensive agriculture, and contribute to time lags between conservation measures implemented on the landscape and water quality benefits realized in receiving water bodies.
Through a combination of top-down analysis using large datasets to identify patterns in landscape behavior and mechanistic modeling, we attempt to capture the ways in which long-term legacies of land use and management impact current dynamics in water quality. Concurrently, my research group focuses on the science of watershed management, exploring fundamental scaling questions, and more applied management questions on spatial configurations of wetlands and riparian areas, and their roles in mitigating water pollution. From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from prairie wetlands to global biogeochemical cycles, from forest fires to urban water, our work demonstrates that, even as changes in climate and land use are leading us to a “new normal,” where past assumptions may no longer hold, we also remain strongly bound by the past.
Nandita Basu studies the role of humans play in modifying water availability and quality through changing land use and climate, providing innovative solutions to water sustainability challenges.
She actively collaborates with ecologists, social scientists and economists to explore other aspects of sustainable water management as part of her research.