Research

The Hydrology, Water Resources and Environmental Fluid Mechanics group has a wide range of interests.  Examples of each faculty’s research interests and some example projects are listed below.

Environmental Flows, Transport and Reaction Processes

Prof. John Crimaldi’s research group uses experimental and numerical approaches to investigate physical-biological interactions in marine and freshwater systems. His research group is focused on understanding the role of fluid physics in promoting stirring, mixing, and reactions in complex environments, and understanding the link between these processes and the functioning of ecosystem dynamics. Their primary area of expertise is in experimental fluid dynamics, where they develop and use sophisticated laser-based instrumentation to make detailed measurements of mass and momentum transport in large-scale laboratory flow facilities. Current research projects funded by the National Science Foundation aim to understand the role of structured stirring on the success of reproductive strategies used by corals and other benthic invertebrates, and the role of siphon flows on the feeding and filtration capabilities of clams and other marine bivalves.

Crimaldi Research

Laboratory Experiments of Turbulent Stirring and Mixing

Prof. Roseanna Neupauer combines standard numerical simulation approaches with advanced mathematical methods, including adjoint theory, chaotic advection, and wavelet analysis, to investigate a wide range of topics related to flow and transport in natural and man-made water systems. Current research projects address groundwater remediation, stream depletion, aquifer vulnerability, riverbank filtration, and characterization of contaminant sources in aquifers and water distribution systems. In a project funded by the National Science Foundation, Prof. Neupauer’s group is exploring innovative strategies to enhance contaminant degradation during in situ remediation of aquifers. This work uses principles of chaotic advection to create time-dependent flow fields, induced by a sequence of injections and extractions of water in the vicinity of the contaminant plume, that spreads a treatment solution into the plume, promoting mixing and degradation reactions between the treatment solution and contaminant. Simulation and optimization techniques are used to develop strategies to maximize contaminant degradation for a wide range of chemical and aquifer properties.

Neupauer Research

Simulation of mixing in groundwater

Prof. Harihar Rajaram’s research deals with fluid mechanics and transport phenomena in environmental and earth systems, stochastic theories of flow and transport in disordered media, and glaciology and glacier hydrology. His research involves high-performance computation of complex coupled processes, mathematical analysis and experimentation. Prof. Rajaram’s group is involved in a National Science Funded project to explore how the surface of the earth is shaped by climate, organisms, and geology, and how it will respond to changing conditions in the future; and a NASA funded project on predicting ice discharge from outlet glaciers in West Greenland out to 2100. Prof. Rajaram is also a President’s Teaching Scholar at CU. The figure below shows a simulation of the development of thermal caves by upwelling water in hydrothermal karst systems, which involves coupling between buoyancy-driven fluid flow, heat transport and multi-component reactive transport.

Rajaram Research

Simulation of development of thermal caves by upwelling water

Hydrology and Water Resources Systems Analysis

Prof. Joseph Kasprzyk’s group uses multiobjective optimization, simulation modeling, and interactive analytics to balance conflicting objectives for water supply and environmental management. The goal is to advance innovative methods for risk-based planning under deep uncertainty, in which decision makers do not know or cannot agree on the full suite of risks to their system. In a new project recently sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Profs. Rajagopalan, Silverstein, and Kasprzyk will be researching in the Center for Comprehensive, OptimaL and Effective Abatement of Nutrients (CLEAN). The center will combine urban planning, water resources management, and wastewater treatment research to create innovative solutions to balance multiple objectives for improving water quality. Prof. Kasprzyk also interacts with Western Water Assessment and the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Environmental and Water Resources Systems on water management in the Western US.

Kasprzyk Research

Tradeoff analysis of infrastructure for the Thames Basin

Prof. Balaji Rajagopalan has research focused on three interconnected themes: (i) Understanding the large-scale climate drivers of year-to-year and multidecadal variability of regional hydrology (ii) Developing ensemble hydrologic forecast and simulation tools that incorporate the large-scale climate information and, (iii) Coupling the forecasts with water resources decision support system.
To enable this, his group’s research advances the use of parametric and nonparametric function estimation techniques, for modeling and simulation of space-time variability of processes and extreme events. These have been applied to a variety of contexts – hydroclimate, paleoclimate, water quality, health, construction management and building systems A current National Science Foundation funded project in Prof. Rajagopalan’s group is assembling a linked modeling framework to explore interactions between surface and groundwater, climate scenarios, and land use decisions for the Argentine Pampas. The project explores how water and food production are linked, and decisions will be developed that perform well under a range of climate variability scenarios. Prof. Rajagopalan is also a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
Balaji Research 1

Atmospheric patterns...

Balaji Research 2

...link to water availability

Prof. Edith Zagona heads the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES). CADSWES research focuses on water resource systems and modeling, planning and operations of multi-objective water resource systems, hydropower optimization, decision support and adaptive management for climate change. Primary sponsors of the Center’s R&D are Bureau of Reclamation, Tennessee Valley Authority and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Center develops and maintains the RiverWare modeling tool, which is widely used by water management agencies. Current research projects include a wind – hydropower energy integration study with the National Renewal Energy Laboratory, a Reclamation funded project to develop decadal climate projections that can improve management of the Colorado River Basin, development of a framework for robust decision making under deep uncertainty, and development of an optimal short term operations model for the Bonneville Power Administration.

Zagona Research

RiverWare simulation and example of reservoir

The Hydrology, Water Resources, and Environmental Fluid Mechanics faculty is always seeking well-qualified graduate students to participate on research projects. Please feel free to contact individual faculty members to learn more about their research.