Dr. Paola Passalacqua, Assistant Professor in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, visited the School of Engineering (UC) in the scope of a joint academic research project with Chilean professors.
Human development and the relation with its geographical environment has been historically a subject of study of multiple fields. However, the analysis of topography, the evolution of the environment in which human activities are embedded, and the interaction with water resources, in particular, have motivated the work of researchers from the fields of Engineering and Earth Sciences. Nowadays, in a joint collaboration, the United States and Chile are working in the application of high-resolution topographic data to hydrological models to determine and quantify the interaction between the geomorphological characteristics of basins and hydrological response.
Paola Passalacqua (Ph.D.), civil engineer and Assistant Professor in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, along with her Masters student in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, Emily Poston; visited Engineering UC to strengthen networking in the scope of the seed fund project of joint academic research between both universities “Scaling analysis of topography data and development of sub grid-scale parameterizations to advance hydrologic modelling”*.
This research has been developed with faculty from the Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Department (UC), Jorge Gironás and Cristián Escauriaza, who seek to use geomorphological high resolution data produced by Dr. Passalacqua’s team in hydrologic/hydraulic models travel times. This connection seeks to develop a more accurate prediction of, for example, the response of a river against a significant rainfall event.
“What we have been working on with Dr. Passalacqua focuses on the integration of fine topographical data, available in the United States, with our hydrological models based on travel times. Moreover, we are using our own theory of turbulence tools, exploring ways to disaggregate thicker topographical data, typical of Chile, in order to preserve relevant information for hydrological modeling”, says professor Gironás.
“These type of research and collaborations that exist between such distant regions, only refine the quality of the models and their predictions when considering a wider range of scenarios and conditions of use. The model is classical hydrological base but uses data obtained with modern technology, allowing, for example, having better estimates of the magnitude of floods and their impacts on society given the terrain where they live”, Passalacqua affirms.
This research complements at the same time the FONDECYT project nº1161439 (2016-2018) “Development of a spatially distributed time travel model for runoff prediction in ungauged basins applied to the Chilean context”, where professor Gironás is the researcher in charge and professor Escauriaza is co-researcher.
*The initiative of coordinating and maximizing the bond between both institutions arises under the eaves of Engineering 2030 project “The Clover 2030”.