Pursuing Creative Solutions for Uncertain Hydrologic Systems


Abstract: Water resources analysis and hydrologic modeling has advanced considerably over the last 50 years, evolving from simple mathematical representations of catchment processes, through to the complex and integrated modeling platforms that exist today. Current modeling approaches allow the rapid formulation and deployment of hydrologic predictions across the full range of potential applications and in response to prospective hazards. It can be argued that these automated approaches have transformed the modeler’s ability to develop effective modeling solutions, and have unified modelers by providing a common template for disparate model structures. However, do current automated modeling platforms inhibit or enhance creativity and innovation in hydrologic science?

This presentation will discuss the importance of creativity in catchment analysis and water resources engineering, and how it might be enhanced using field observations, expert knowledge, and current or future modeling tools. Using a suite of case study catchments from the US and Australia, we consider the use of multi-model approaches for improved uncertainty analysis and understanding of model performance. We demonstrate how field experiments can challenge the traditional conceptualization of a catchment, and how this information may be incorporated into existing uncertainty frameworks. Overall, we emphasize the need to challenge the existing bounds of automated modeling platforms to propose new (creative) solutions to scenarios where our models fail.




Associate Professor Lucy Marshall is Deputy Director of the Water Research Centre, and Associate Dean (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. Lucy completed her PhD degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW before moving to Montana State University in 2006, where she worked at the interface of engineering and environmental science in quantifying uncertainty in hydrologic and environmental systems. She returned to UNSW as an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in 2013. Her technical expertise is in hydrologic modeling, model optimization, and quantification of uncertainty in water resources analysis. She is a leading Australian expert on the assessment of uncertainty in water resources models, and more specifically in the application of formal Bayesian methods for model optimization and diagnostics.

Date & time

12.30–1.30pm 9 Jul 2018


Room:R107 Design Studio


Associate Professor Lucy Marshall


02 612 58807

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing