Motivating Problem - Urgent Threats to Our Riverscapes
The world is utterly dependent on freshwater resources and riverscapes. Collectively, the world’s riverscapes have alarmingly poor health and are facing increasing threats to river biodiversity and human water security (Vörösmarty et al. 2010).
Global threats to River Biodiversity from Vörösmarty et al. (2010) and Rivers in Crisis (riverthreat.net).
The health of riverscapes can be improved and they can become more resilient to threats like increasing severity of floods, droughts, fires, exotic invasions, pollution and land use changes (Wheaton et al. 2019). However, it requires thinking more broadly and strategically, and working smarter with limited resources. Neither the scientific riverscapes community nor the management community are working smart enough or fast enough to tackle these challenges.
Some of the challenges are societal and political, but some of our scientific knowledge and capacity gaps are simply limited by antiquated ways of doing our science and a lack of standardization. Riverscape science advances have been massively limited by a lack of leveraging and integration of past contributions, existing data and models. Technological solutions exist today to tackle these knowledge gaps and capacity limitations, and simply require strategic thinking and investment. Given how humankinds survival on this planet is so intimately tied to healthy riverscapes and clean water, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to make those investments now.
The Emergence of a Riverscapes Consortium
Together with many talented and creative collaborators, we have built an international consortium of researchers and software developers who build tools and pioneer solutions to better understand, simulate & manage our riverscapes . We call ourselves The Riverscapes Consortium (RC). The consortium is not defined by any individual or single organization, but is rather a genuine collaboration of scientists whose curiosity and concern about riverscapes and their ecosystems has brought them together. We are a group of scientists that believe a diversity of perspectives and approaches are necessary to tackle the biggest challenges and long-standing questions we face in understanding and better managing riverscapes.
What we do
The RC tackles these challenges through four primary outlets:
- Scalable & interoperable Tools
- Innovative, reproducible & rigorous Science
- Accessible, transparent and rich Data Warehouses
- Pragmatic & scalable Management solutions
Our consortium has been prolific in developing and vetting the science and theoretical underpinnings essential to understanding and explaining how riverscapes work and are organized across a range of nested hierarchical spatial scales. We have also committed to building open-source algorithms tools to make it easier for researchers, professionals, practitioners and students to apply those concepts to studying or managing their own riverscapes.
- Vörösmarty CJ et al. 2010. Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity. Nature 467 : 555–561. DOI: 10.1038/nature09440
- Wheaton J.M., Bennett S.N., Bouwes, N., Maestas J.D. and Shahverdian S.M. (Editors). 2019. Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration of Riverscapes: Design Manual. Version 1.0. Utah State University Restoration Consortium. Logan, UT. 286 pp. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.19590.63049/2.