NSF Leads Federal Efforts In Big Data

At a White House event, the NSF Director announced a new Big Data solicitation, $10 million Expeditions in Computing award, and awards in cyberinfrastructure, geosciences, training.

Researchers in a growing number of fields are generating extremely large and complicated data sets, commonly referred to as “big data.” A wealth of information may be found within these sets, with enormous potential to shed light on some of the toughest and most pressing challenges facing the nation. To capitalize on this unprecedented opportunity–to extract insights, discover new patterns and make new connections across disciplines–we need better tools to access, store, search, visualize and analyze these data.

Read more at the National Science Foundation website.

DCDC Google Scholar Page

We’ve created a Google Scholar page for Decision Center for a Desert City publications. Google Scholar provides a review of Decision Center for a Desert City literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles. Google Scholar aims to rank documents the way researchers do, weighing the full text of each document, where it was published, who it was written by, as well as how often and how recently it has been cited in other scholarly literature.

You’ll also find Google Scholar pages for DCDC researchers which provides a simple way for authors to keep track of citations to their articles. You can check who is citing your publications, graph citations over time, and compute several citation metrics. You can also make your profile public, so that it may appear in Google Scholar results.

Visit the Decision Center for a Desert City Google Scholar page.

Spatial Optimization Models for Water Supply Allocation

Authors: Alan T. Murray (1), Patricia Gober (2, 3), Luc Anselin (1), Sergio J. Rey (1), David Sampson (3), Paul D. Padegimas (1), Yin Liu (1)
in Water Resource Management, DOI 10.1007/s11269-012-0013-5


Fig. 1 Water sources by large providers in metropolitan Phoenix
Climate change is likely to result in increased aridity, lower runoff, and declining water supplies for the cities of the Southwestern United States, including Phoenix. The situation in Phoenix is particularly complicated by the large number of water providers, each with its own supply portfolio, demand conditions, and conservation strategies. This paper details spatial optimization models to support water supply allocation between service provider districts, where some districts experience deficits and others experience surpluses in certain years. The approach seeks to reconcile and integrate projections derived from a complex simulation model taking into account current and future climate conditions. The formulated and applied models are designed to help better understand the expected increasingly complex interactions of providers under conditions of climate change. Preliminary results show cooperative agreements would reduce spot shortages that would occur even without climate change. In addition, they would substantially reduce deficits if climate change were to moderately reduce river flows in Phoenix’s major source regions, but have little effect under the most pessimistic scenarios because there are few surpluses available for re-allocation.


The results obtained from the developed spatial optimization model reflecting regional cooperation in water supply management across the Phoenix metropolitan area demonstrate the insights possible from a modeling based analysis approach. It is foreseeable that the introduction of demand management strategies will be necessary in the face of future climate change, but also it is possible to significantly reduce deficits in some cases. By taking full advantage of all the water that is available as well as establishing cooperation between water districts, as opposed to the practice of conserving surpluses for future use but not distributing extra water when available to those districts in need, it is possible to stretch the available supply of water to ensure that the impacts of water shortages are minimized.

In every scenario, the results pointed to clear benefits of regional cooperation, whether it is the complete avoidance of deficits over a period of time (Scenarios 1 and 2), to a reduction of total deficits across the region (Scenarios 3 and 4). Effective policy implementation could lead to the employment of a trading strategy that embodies the benefits demonstrated in this paper. It is clear in each scenario presented in this paper that Phoenix and its ability to transfer water either in from or out to other districts appears inevitable. As the largest city in the region by almost four times, it will clearly be an important factor in water resource management. While it is assumed in this paper that water transfers are possible by simply recharging subsurface aquifers by one district and pumping out water by another, there may be a need for conveyance infrastructure to successfully implement an effective water sharing strategy in the region. Whether it be by manmade infrastructure or natural aquifers, in the case of the Phoenix metropolitan region, it is obvious that the city of Phoenix must be completely intertwined with the water network of the region.

The linear program presented in this paper is a foundation for effective water management and is, in the form presented, adaptable to accommodate different weighting schemes. While it may be possible to re-allocate water across the region in a more equitable manner than weighting by population of each provider district, it is evident that as it stands, this model is effective for demonstrating the potential gains of any region with multiple, independent water providers, through optimal water re-allocation. The potential to change the weighting mechanism will be important for future work, which may include a cost structure for transfer transactions, measures of social benefit achieved by water re-allocation, or economic gains related to water availability. Decision rules about who does and does not share access to relevant conveyance infrastructure may also be included in future applications. While different potential decision rules and weighting mechanisms will likely vary by application, the foundation for multi-district water re-allocation modeling presented here clearly demonstrates the potential benefits of such a system.


This article is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. SES-0345945, Decision Center for a Desert City. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

(1) GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University

(2) School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University

(3) Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University

Observatories for Integrated Water Basin Science

An Eos FORUM article by L. Douglas James, via Eos, Vol. 93, No. 10, 6 March 2012.

For more than 30 years, with the last 20 years at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), I have been immersed in community efforts to focus water resources research on growing societal needs. Past strategies have stumbled, but creative thinking on basin function offers a way out. The following ideas are mine and are not necessarily shared by NSF. Read more here: Eos, Vol. 93, No. 10, 6 March 2012.

In the News

  • Winter precipitation levels were dryer than normal in West & Southeast via NOAA.
  • The first big thing to hit Phoenix since light rail via PURL.
  • Arizona GOP Lawmakers Want Control of Energy Policy via CBS News
  • WRRC Interview with Tom Buschatzke, via Arizona Water Resource.
  • Metropolitan Water Policy in the Wet and Dry Sunbelt, video of Robert Lange, WRRC Keynote Speaker via WRRC.
  • Farmers and Conservationists Working Together in the Colorado River Basin via National Geographic NewsWatch.
  • NASA What Doesn’t Stay in Vegas: Sprawl via NASA Explorer.

In the News

  • Hot summers increasing in the US. June-August averages expected to climb further. UCAR/NCAR Atmos News.
  • The psychology of building a climate movement @ 350.org.
  • Climate Change, Water, and Risk: Current Water Demands Are Not Sustainable at National Research Defense Council.
  • U.S. cities try to adapt to climate change, via USA Today.
  • More rules may hinder affordability of CAP water via Arizona Republic.
  • Source to Sea Down the Colorado River. A journey from Wyoming to Mexico on the Colorado River.
  • More good reasons to fund the AZ Water Protection Fund via Eastern Arizona Courier.

Math and Climate Research Network Workshop

ASU Professors Alex Mahalov and Eric Kostelich bring their Math and Climate Research Network Workshop to DCDC on March 5-7, 2012. The Math and Climate Research Network links researchers across the US to develop the mathematics needed to better understand the Earth’s climate.

It is generally accepted in the scientific community that the world is undergoing a significant change in its climate. The issues and problems of the science that seeks to understand the earth’s climate, and how it is changing, have a significant mathematical dimension. The Mathematics and Climate Research Network (MCRN) is a virtual organization of leading researchers in mathematics and geosciences whose mission is to establish a new area of applied mathematics tailored to the needs of climate research.

The network consists of researchers at “nodes” across the US, together with several collaborating government and university labs and centers in the US and beyond. Network researchers have a collective expertise that cuts across the relevant areas of applied mathematics and climate science. They will collaboratively lead a group of postdoctoral research fellows, graduate and undergraduate students to create a cadre of strong mathematicians with the interdisciplinary expertise required to analyze problems that have their origin in climate issues.

MCRN is funded by an award from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences, and is administered through the Renaissance Computing Institute.