From mathematical models to practical solutions: Research tackles water challenges around the globe

Written by
Molly Sharlach
Molly Sharlach, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Aug. 6, 2020

Water is the most elemental ingredient of life; its regular availability is essential to our economies and to civilization itself. Yet billions of people yearly confront water-related stress, including devastating droughts, destructive flooding and toxic contamination.

Over the last half-century, Princeton researchers have been tackling critical environmental problems involving water. Their tools and discoveries contribute to cleaning up watersheds and inform policies to plan for water scarcity and flooding around the globe.

Princeton researchers have led the development of a new field called ecohydrology, a discipline that examines the roles of landscapes, plants and soil in the water cycle. To understand how water moves through living systems, Princeton researchers from engineering, geosciences and ecology and evolutionary biology developed mathematical approaches integrating rainfall data with information on geological features, soil moisture and vegetation.

From developing predictive models of rainfall and droughts to engineering coastal protections to prepare for sea-level rise, Princeton is at the forefront of studying water across varied and varying landscapes.

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