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SAHRA Macro-Themes and River Basin Foci


SAHRA’s purpose is to generate hydrological understanding and encourage its application to improve the management of water resources and public policy in semi-arid regions. We use this as the criterion to guide what we do, as, for example, in the case of the three stakeholder-relevant questions we are using to steer our activities that will create new hydrological understanding.

To function as a Center, SAHRA needs a structure to work around that conveniently reflects groupings of our capabilities and interests, but whose primary purpose is to provide a mechanism through which SAHRA’s intermediate management can: (a) coordinate, prioritize, and deploy intellectual and financial resources, and (b) provide effective budget monitoring at a manageable level less than that of the Center as a whole. We used “Thrust Areas” as the primary grouping to do this in the original SAHRA proposal but, drawing on our experience in the first three years, we chose to redefine these groupings into “Theme Areas” when submitting our proposal for renewal in 2003, and into "Macro-Themes" after further administrative review late in 2003.. We did this because we feel Macro-Themes better reflect the way we actually work and the way we plan to work in future. We have reallocated our projects, midlevel management responsibilities, and budgets to reflect this change in our management structure.

The five Thrust Areas (TAs) used in the original SAHRA proposal were:

TA1: Spatial and Temporal Components of the Water Balance
TA2: Basin-Scale Water and Solute Balances
TA3: Functioning of Riparian Systems
TA4: Multi-Resolution Integrated Modeling of Basin-Scale Processes
TA5: Water as a Resource: Competition, Conflict, Planning, and Policy

 

Macro-Themes

The driving impetus for evolving from these Thrust Areas to our current Macro-Themes was a desire to improve the level of integration between activities in SAHRA. The process was complex and involved a comprehensive evaluation of Center activities and review, discussion, and planning in our monthly Executive Committee meetings and at many workshops and meetings.

Macro-Themes used in the annual review of SAHRA activity and budget, their current primary activities, and the Theme Areas they correspond to in the SAHRA renewal proposal.

 
Macro-Theme
Current Activities
Renewal Proposal
Basin-scale Water Balance

(Creating New Process Knowledge)
Plot to hill slope scale processes
• Landscape to basin-scale water balances
• Linkages between scales
• Behavioral Components,
• Institutional Analysis, and Policy Criteria
• Stakeholder Involvement
• Relevant technology and equipment
• Basin-Scale Water Balance
• Technology and Equipment (part of)
River Systems

(Creating New Process Knowledge)

• Riparian Water Balance
• Nutrient and Solute Sources and Cycling
• Ecosystem Dynamics and Value
• Non Market Value and links to ecosystem dynamics
• Stakeholder Involvement
• Integration into Decision Support
• Relevant technology and equipment

• River Systems
• Technology and Equipment (part of)

Integrated Modeling

(Creating New Modeling Knowledge)

• Fine resolution models
• Medium resolution models
• Coarse resolution models
• Integration of physical and behavioral science at all modeling levels.
• Climate drivers and data
• Multi-resolution Integrated Basin-scale Modeling
• Regional Hydrometeorology
• Data and Information
Knowledge Transfer

(Building Understanding)

• International Activities
• Trade Magazine
• Web Resources
• Professional Development
• Public displays and information
• Media briefings
• Internal center communication
• Knowledge Transfer
• International Activities
Education

(Building Understanding)

• Graduate student support
• Teacher Workshops
• Internships and Graduate
• Education
• Summer Science Camps
• K-12 Education programs
• Undergraduate research
• Education
• Student Support (new)
Administration

(Center Support)

• Cross-center Administration
• Business Office functions
• Cross-center secretarial support
Administration

 

River Basin Foci
SAHRA is a large, effective, and geographically distributed Center, but we can’t do everything everywhere. Recognizing this, and in parallel with our restructuring around Theme Areas, we have also recognized the value of organizing ourselves geographically around selected river basins. The introduction of these River Basin Foci encourages end-to-end integration in our activities. Future scenarios (climate, population, or institutional) can be integrated with scientific understanding and, via integrated modeling, through education and outreach used to benefit policy and decision-making. Two transboundary river basins were selected as the foci of the bulk of current SAHRA research activities:

the Rio Grande/Bravo River basin, and
the San Pedro River basin,

with supportive work in the Rio Conchos (Mexico) basin and, at the regional scale, in the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico in general. As we move forward we envision that the tools and methods we develop by focusing our activities in these basins will become applicable to and tested elsewhere in semi-arid regions in the southwestern U.S. and beyond.


Jim Shuttleworth
Director, SAHRA


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