Frontiers in Water Forecasting: Merging Data-Intensive Approaches with First Principles



Laurel Larsen

Associate Professor, Geography, UC Berkeley, BIDS Faculty Affiliate

Laurel is an assistant professor of earth systems science at the University of California, Berkeley, where she runs the Environmental Systems Dynamics Laboratory. Previously, she was a research ecologist and research hydrologist with the USGS in Reston, VA. Laurel’s research uses a variety of tools to identify the feedback processes driving environmental systems at the landscape scale. These tools include field and laboratory work, simulation modeling, and data-driven analysis using increasingly available environmental data from sensor networks and remote sensing platforms. Much of this work focuses on how water interacts with physical (e.g., sediment) and biological (e.g., plants) components of the environment, often in nonlinear ways that lead to thresholds, sudden shifts between alternate stable states, or chaotic behavior. Understanding these type of interactions enables anticipatory planning and improves the efficiency and effectiveness of restoration efforts. Her work has influenced restoration efforts in in the Everglades, with ongoing work focusing on the Chesapeake Bay and the Wax Lake Delta, part of the greater Mississippi River delta complex. Laurel earned her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder and also trained at Washington University in St. Louis.