Two Years of Interdisciplinary Research, Education, and Network-building Through the Studies of Precipitation, Flooding, and Rainfall Extremes Across Disciplines (SPREAD) Workshops

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Russ S. Schumacher, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO

Handout (25.7 MB)

Inspired by the WAS*IS movement and sponsored by a National Science Foundation CAREER grant for integrating research and education, the Studies of Precipitation, flooding, and Rainfall Extremes Across Disciplines (SPREAD) workshop was organized in 2013 to bring together graduate students from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds with research interests in precipitation and flooding. These students, who come from graduate programs including meteorology, hydrology, economics, psychology, sociology, history, emergency management, and geography, initiated several interdisciplinary research projects at the 2013 workshop. The participants then reconvened in July 2014 to discuss progress on these projects along with advances that were made related to their thesis/dissertation research and, in some cases, new career opportunities.

A recurring theme from the workshops was the history, application, and interpretation of flood probabilities and return periods, including terminology such as "100-year flood." A unique opportunity arose to explore this issue, as historic flooding occurred in Colorado in September 2013 in the time between the two workshops. During the 2013 workshop, the group had visited several locations in Colorado that had been affected by past floods, which then also experienced flooding in the September 2013 flood. Repeat visits to these locations in 2014 revealed the magnitude of impacts of the floods, along with the implications of some of the assumptions about flood probability and recurrence frequency. These subjects, the results of ongoing research, and perspectives on the long-term impact of workshops such as these on interdisciplinary research and education efforts will be addressed during the presentation.