Thursday, June 27, 2019

GEOframe Winter School 2020 - It is time to apply !


The second edition on the Winter School on GEOframe will be held between January 8 and 17, 2020 in Trento, Italy.  The course is devoted to Ph.D. Students, Post-docs, Young researchers (and Professionals!) interested in estimating all the components of the hydrological cycle (rainfall, evapotranspiration, snow-melting, and river discharge).  The system they will learn allows to work out very small catchments and continental basins as well (e.g. Abera et al., 2017a,b) up to build operational solutions as the one used in in Basilicata.

The aim of the course is to enable participants to run their own simulations and eventually on their own catchments and estimate the hydrological budget components.
With respect to the 2019 Winter School, there will be more practice and more detailed work on evapotranspiration and rainfall-runoff. It will be much more focused on exercises and on getting the water budget performed under various hypotheses on models' structure.


The provisional topics will be:

Teachers will be:

Prof. Riccardo Rigon, Ph.D.
Prof. Giuseppe Formetta, Ph.D.
Marialaura Bancheri, Ph.D.
Michele Bottazzi, Ph.D. candidate
Niccolò Tubini, Ph.D. student
Daniele Dalla Torre, research assistant

The provisional topics will be:

  • January 8 -   Installation and introduction to the Object Modelling System Infrastructure and Jupyter
  • January 9 -   Interpolation of hydrometeorological datasets and elements of parameters calibration with LUCA and particle swarm tools
  • January 10 - Hydrologic Response Units delineation and treatment of spatial features.
  • January 13 - Estimation of evaporation and transpiration 
  • January 14 - Rainfall-Runoff I - Representation of semidistributed models with the Extended Petri Nets. The embedded reservoir (ERM -see also here) and other available models. Discussing  inputs data to models and modelling solutions. 
  • January 15 - Rainfall-Runoff - II  - How Net3 works (see also here). Preparing the topology and the simulation files.  Connecting and disconnecting components. Running modelling solutions. 
  • January 16 - Rainfall-Runoff - III Calibration issues, multisite calibrations and first results production
  • January 17 - Results production and presentation.   Hints for estimating travel times. Crowd-based-hydrology.
To have an idea of the topics, the interested researchers should give look at the material (slides, video etc. of the 2019 Winter School).  The material of the first three days remains very similar (but refined) to the old one. Therefore, for students is possible also to participate only to the second week (at the same cost, but saving some lodging) but, in that case, is mandatory to follow the on-line courses and tutorials  relative of 8-9-10 January topics and having done the exercises before December 15. We will offer prompt online support to them up to that date and no support whatsoever on the same topics later or  between 13-17 of January for clear reasons of course efficiency and organisation.  The refined material of the first three days will be available on the Winter School website  from November 15, 2019.

With respect to the 2019 School, there will be more practice and more detailed material on Evapotranspiration and Rainfall-Runoff. For every 40 minutes of talk there will be 70 minutes of supervised exercise for a total of 8 hour a day of activities. 

Cost of the School is 350 Euros for who will subscribe before November 15, 400 Euros for others. A discount of 20 Euros is granted to fellows of the Italian Hydrological Society (subscriptions for students are available at the IHS-SII site for 10 Euros to students and 20 to seniors). Who attended the last year school can participate free of charge, upon subscription. Inclusive of the costs will be coffee breaks and lunch at the Cafeteria of Department of Civil, and one social dinner for all the schoolmates Environmental and Mechanical Engineering. 

Website for the enrollment go here (To be active from October 15 2019).

For any further information, please fill free to contact me at riccardo.rigon <at> unitn.it

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Some new Ph.D. positions

The new call for the 2019 doctoral position is out. I am interested in topic "D1/D2 - Agricultural, Environmental and hydro-meteorological sciences and engineering”. There are a few available doctoral grants which will be given to a selection of applicants, according to the rule specified in the call. I am interested in students who wants actively collaborate to the WATZON Prin Project. So please peruse the WATZONE project's pages to write your personal  project which the appllication requires.


Overview of the state of art of our topic

Plants water-use strategies are driven by plant functional traits (PFT) (examples are leaf size, toughness and longevity, seed size and dispersal mode, canopy height and structure, capacity for nitrogen fixation) (Mitchell et al., 2008) and in recent years, plant-physiology studies provided an increasingly detailed knowledge of plants behaviour (Schymanski and Or, 2017), but only some of them started to be inserted in ecohydrological models (e.g. Fatichi et al., 2016). Models simulating plant-hydraulic processes are still rare and confined to specific studies (Hölä et al., 2009; Mackay et al., 2015; Nikinmaa et al., 2014). Other studies account explicitly for topographic attributes and lateral water and mass exchanges (Ivanov et al., 2008; Shen et al., 2013; Tague et al., 2013), but their treatment of plant processes is often oversimplified (Zhou et al., 2013). In mountain terrain, even the effect of plot-scale (0.01-0.1 km2) spatial variability of the energy fluxes is still largely not understood (Rollinson and Kaye, 2015) notwithstanding pioneering stud- ies which account for various feedbacks are available, which show that vegetation productivity and water use do not change linearly through spatial gradients (Niedrist et al., 2016).
Research questions addressed
  1.  How specific plant water-use strategies can be implemented in hydrological models ?,
  2. Which is the relative role of biotic (PFT) versus abiotic (soils, topography, climate) processes in determining the spatial and temporal variability of ET and soil water?
  3.  Which is the right level of complexity necessary in models to upscale R3 results from plants to catchments?
  4. How to take advantage of a combination of advanced multi-sensor, multiscale observations to constrain eco-hydrological models and improve their spatial accuracy?
  5. How to leverage recent theories of transport to implement the solutes dynamics in plants ?

Other information

The candidate will take care of implementing, besides the code, the appropriate procedures for continuous integration of the evolving source code, and s/he will be also asked to maintain a regular rate of commits to the common open platform. Despite these conditions, and being free and open source, the code will be intellectual property by the coder. This will be guaranteed also by the components-based infrastructure offered by OMS3, which allows to better define the contributions of anyone.
The implementation part will be followed, accompanied by testing activities, either for mathematical consistency, and for physical consistency with experiments and field measurements.
The Ph.D. student is intended to produce, besides working and tested codes, also at least three papers in major journals (VQR Class A), of which, at least one as first Author.
All the code developed will be done in Github (or similar platform), inside the GEOframe community and will be Open Source according to the GPL v3 license.

The candidate will take care of implementing, besides the code, the appropriate procedures for continuous integration of the evolving source code, and s/he will be also asked to maintain a regular rate of commits to the common open platform. Despite these conditions, and being free and open source, the code will be intellectual property by the coder. This will be guaranteed also by the components-based infrastructure offered by OMS3, which allows to better define the contributions of anyone.The implementation part will be followed, accompanied by testing activities, either for mathematical consistency, than for physical consistency with experiments and field measurements.The Ph.D. student is intended to produce, besides working and tested codes, also at least three papers in major journals (VQR Class A), of which, at least one as first Author. Duration of the doctoral studies is three years.

Further information of the policies of the research group can be found:
P.S. - I am also considering:
  • Applicants who wants to apply to build the new GEOtop snow model but with attention to forest-snow interactions.
  • Who wants to work on the infrastructure of the OMS3, GEOframe systems.
  • Who wants to exploit the capabilities of the GEOframe system to pursue the modelling of the river Adige (and/or other rivers in the world), including human infrastructures.

The WATZON project

We had financed (small financial support indeed) a PRIN project called WATZON (WATer mixing in the critical ZONe: observations and predictions under environmental changes). It was reborn on the ashes of the Water MIX and PRECISE projects and its short description is:

"Sustainable land and water resources management is inextricably linked to a detailed knowledge of water availability in the critical zone (CZ), which is the thin outer layer of the Earth extending from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of water aquifers, and that controls water quality and quantity, sustaining human activity. The CZ is experiencing ever-increasing pressure due to growth in human population and water demands, and changing climatic conditions. Understanding, predicting and managing intensification of water use and associated economic services in the CZ, while mitigating and adapting to rapid climate change and biodiversity decline, is now one of the most pressing societal challenges of the 21st century. Vegetation is a fundamental element of the CZ, as connects water from different storages in the subsurface zone with water in the lower atmosphere, therefore regulating water fluxes among different compartments of the CZ. Several studies in the last years have examined water mixing processes in the soil-vegetation-atmosphere system. However, because of the large spatio-temporal variability of subsurface water movement and the capability of plants to access water from both deep and shallow sources, and the resulting highly-complex feedbacks in water exchanges between vegetation and other ecohydrological compartments, fundamental scientific questions on the effect of vegetation on the hydrological cycle, especially under different climatic forcing and land-use conditions, remain unanswered.
The main objective of the project WATZON (WATer mixing in the critical ZONe: observations and predictions under environmental changes) is to advance the understanding of water mixing in the CZ by investigating ecohydrological processes of water exchange between vegetation and surface and subsurface water compartments.

Specifically, the project aims at:
  1. assessing the description of water mixing process across the CZ by using integrated high-resolution isotopic, geophysical and hydrometeorological measurements from point to catchment scale, under different physiographic conditions and climate forcing;
  2. testing water exchange mechanisms between subsurface reservoirs and vegetation, and to assess ecohydrological dynamics in different environments by coupling the high-resolution data set from different CZ study sites of the project consortium with advanced ecohydrological models at multiple spatial scales;
  3. developing a process-based conceptual framework of ecohydrological processes in the CZ to translate scientific knowledge into evidence to support policy and management decisions concerning water and land use in forested and agricultural ecosystems.

The project objectives will be achieved by integrating different methodological tools, such as environmental tracers (isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen), advanced geophysical measurements and detailed ecohydrological models, to develop an interdisciplinary and holistic comprehension of ecohydrological dynamics under different climatic forcing and land use conditions. 
The project will create a new network of study sites in Italy (Critical Zone study sites) representative for different climatic, physiographic and vegetation conditions in the Mediterranean area, including grassland, forested and agricultural ecosystems. High-resolution and detailed experimental data and observations will be collected in a consistent way across all study sites in order to identify water pools potentially involved in ecohydrological water exchanges and fine-study root water uptake dynamics. The high-quality data collected in the field and the experimental results will serve as a basis to implement and apply new-generation, robust, reliable and realistic ecohydrological models aiming at assessing water mixing and exchange mechanisms between subsurface reservoirs, vegetation and atmosphere at the root-plant scale and the stand and catchment scale. Models will be used also to develop scenario-based projections for assessing the impact of land-use change on ecosystem services under different climatic and environmental conditions. 
In addition to the foreseen significant advancement of scientific research on water mixing processes in the CZ, the other main impact of WATZON will regard the communication with stakeholders and interaction with the civil society. Involvement of the most relevant stakeholders (e.g., water agencies, river basin authorities, reclamation and irrigation districts, government agencies for forest management and protection, national parks, municipalities and regional councils) will allow to translate the acquired scientific knowledge into practices to support effective and sustainable land and water resources management across a variety of climate and physiographic settings.

Our specific efforts, in which I will work with Giacomo Bertoldi (GS) and Giuseppe Formetta will be using the Mastch-Mazia Valley measurements made by EURAC and improve its dataset and, at the same time, lead WP3 of the project: Testing water mixing mechanisms through ecohydrological modelling 

WP3 will use data and experimental results provided by the activities  to test, implement and apply robust, reliable and realistic (R3) ecohydrological models aiming at assessing water mixing and exchange mechanisms between surface, subsurface reservoirs, vegetation and atmosphere within the CROSSes. Particularly, the models will be applied at three main scales: i) the scale of the roots-stems-leaves apparatus, to analyse vegetation water uptake dynamics and their possible switches over time; ii) the stand and iii) catchment scale, to examine how plant water use affects streamflow generation within different ecohydrological regimes. The starting set of models for the project is composed by GEOtop-dv, JGrass-NewAge (JN), now called GEOframe.

Task 3.1.This task will model ecohydrological processes. Soil water flow will be modelled through 3D Richards equation, with improved parameterizations of soil water retention curves, hydraulic conductivity and treatments of hydraulic conductivity. Interaction between water and roots will be implemented. New schemes of plants hydraulics will be implemented to obtain the partition between evaporation and transpiration. Energy and the carbon budget will be modeled to properly constraint the transpiration production. Tools for accounting for water age, and tracers concentration, will be coupled to the new modules of GEOtop and GEOframe. New gridding and numerics will be devised to mimic the experiments and measurements domains.

Task 3.2. This task will couple field data and ecohydrological models at the root-stem-plant volume scale. Along with the 3D simulations, 1D models will be used. Fluxes will be analysed both in time domain and estimating residence and travel time to cope with tracers at integrated soil-plant scale. These results will be compared with those identified by isotope data and geophysical measurements in project's catchments.

Task 3.3. This task will couple field data and ecohydrological models at the stand and catchment scale. New models of plants communities functioning based on plant functional traits and optimality principles will be introduced, along with the more mechanistic ones. The model results will be compared in CRitical zOne Study Sites –(CROSSes) 2, 4, 5 and 6 against isotope data.

WP3 provide the following deliverables.
  • Deliverable 3.1: New improved components of the models GEOtop and GEOframe and their documentation at the end of each project’s year (version +1,+2,+3).
  • Deliverable 3.2: Case studies will be provided for all the experimental sites, using the various versions of the model components. All the material for the simulation will be provided to the research community online by Open Science Framework.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A practictioner view on Water and Flood directives

I am participating to a book, edit by Paolo Turrini, Marco Pertile and Antonio Massarutto which aims to describe the status of the application of the Water Framework directive in Italy ("Water law, policy and economics in Italy:between national autonomy and eu law constraints"). Our chapter regards actually the application and the interactions between the Water directive and the Flood directive in the Italian Districts. This is an outcome of the activities initiated with the CLIMAWARE project and, in a sense, the continuation of my work as president of the Water Platform of the Alpine Convention in 2013-2014.
Please find the presentation by clicking on the figure above. Presentation is thought as a sequence of hints to topics I will eventually define better, after having heard what the other participants will say before me. The schedule of the meeting, held at Bocconi University in Milan today is here.