California Water CyberInfrastructure

Groundwater quantity and quality is extremely important to the vitality of California. With a population of over 30 million people, and an agricultural economy based on intensive irrigation, and large urban industrial areas, there is a wide range of activities that have the potential to contaminate or otherwise jeopardize the groundwater in California. Groundwater typically moves slowly and most of the major sources of groundwater contamination have been created within the last 50 years; most of the groundwater that we drink is substantially older than the contaminant sources. We currently do not know how basin-scale groundwater quality will respond to contamination, overdraft, salt water intrusion, or irrigation with wastewater. Furthermore, we do not know how global change, which will influence the snowmelt runoff and thus groundwater recharge, will influence groundwater quality and sustainability. The uncertainties are magnified in the Central Valley, which receives much of its water from Sierra Nevada runoff, and where climate change could have a significant impact on agriculture and energy.

Through the Microsoft eScience Project, the Berkeley Water Center is developing a Water Cyberinfrastructure prototype that can be used to investigate and eventually manage water resources. The Water Cyberinfrastructure is developing in close collaboration between IT, physical science, and California water agency leaders. The value of the Cyberinfrastructure prototype will be tested through relevant end-to-end demonstration focused on important California Basins. The study region(s) are chosen based on several criteria, including availability of the data, importance of the problem that can be tackled given the cyberinfrastructure to California, leveraging opportunity, and scientific importance of the problems to be addressed. The BWC is currently building partnerships with several water representatives, such as the USGS, Sonoma County Water Agency, the Monterey County Water Resource Agency, and the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. Our objective with the California Water projects is to first assemble only the most critical components needed to address relevant science questions, rather than to initially create fully developed problem solving environments or construct a grand scale solution. We will take an extreme programming approach that will enable us to quickly test prototype capabilities and get feedback from representative users to ensure that we are actually facilitating water research. Guided by such feedback, we can grow those prototypes over time in a systematic and useful manner. 

The developed infrastructure offers potential for significant transferability. The approach used to develop the water infrastructure should be applicable to many other basins throughout the world. The infrastructure also offers a springboard for additional California water investigations or portal augmentations, for example exploring impact of global change on the Central Valley productivity by coupling to a climatic scale model or augmenting the infrastructure to easily access real-time streaming data from networked field sensors.

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Credits:The research and development described on this page is funded by the Microsoft Corporation. This work is also supported by the Director, Office of Science, of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.

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