I see ecohydrology as the observationally-driven discipline (but not exclusively as there are very interesting and key modeling studies in the area) that help us understand how water interacts with natural ecosystems. I particularly like the strong emphases on the hypothesis-based approach in ecohydrology always focusing on understanding processes and controls.
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
I received my BSc degree in Meteorology (2002) while carrying out field research in a sugarcane plantation and woodland savannah in Sao Paulo state. My MSc degree is in Agricultural Systems Ecology (2005) also at the University of Sao Paulo and my project was about the impact of regional Amazon deforestation due to planned road paving on the hydrological cycle using an atmospheric model. I have a PhD degree in Hydrology at the University of Arizona (2010) and I studied how to improve land models using in situ observations from flux towers in the Amazon basin.
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
During my first undergraduate year, I was very fortunate to get involved with fieldwork. The research in my department tended to focus more on modeling studies (numerical weather prediction and regional atmospheric modeling) but I found my way to go out and start taking measurements of soil moisture and soil respiration in sugarcane and woodland sites maintained by my undergraduate advisor. This was also my first interaction with literature focusing on ecology and biosphere-atmosphere interactions and I absolutely loved it! Knowing that the land could essentially influence the meteorology of a region blew my mind, and after that I decided that was going to be my research area of interest. The hydrology side came a few years later when working on my MSc research which looked at all components of the regional hydrological cycle affected by the Amazon deforestation. Now, given the background I acquired over the years I consider myself as an ecohydrometeorologist (it is even funnier when saying that to a family member).
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I can highlight two areas: Big data analysis and clever ways to design and maintain experimental facilities in the long-term! We are now collecting an unimaginable volume of environmental data with new technologies from drones to remote sensing satellites. In addition, traditional catchment hydrology and meteorological modeling applications have been converging in the recent past allowing for high- (or even used hyper-) resolution simulations covering countries, continents, and even the whole Earth, requiring more and more datasets. Making sense of all these data will be challenging: looking for patterns or controlling factors in order to better understand key processes related to how water is stored or leaves each component of the hydrological cycle. On the other hand, the complexity of such hydrometeorological models sometimes undermines the detection of clear environmental controls (too many processes happening simultaneously) and I still believe that simplified models (simple hypothesis-based and specific) are useful tools, especially when reaching audiences outside academia. We, ecohydrologists, will also need to come up with clever ideas for regional- and even continental-scale long-term monitoring especially these days when available funding is limited for experimental research. Maybe thinking of network of networks, citizen’s network, mobile observational platforms that have autonomy to decide where and when to go and collected data depending on the event happening.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
I have two papers that really showed me the importance of ecology in hydrology and meteorology. I am not sure whether they would be classified as ecohydrology papers but they certainly showed the links between the hydrological components and the biosphere. I was still an undergraduate student when I first read these papers. The first one is the paper by Nobre et al. (1991) showing what happens to the hydroclimate over the entire Amazon basin if the rainforest is completely replaced by pasturelands. I like to see how the land cover maps were coarsely prescribed at that time and reading it always reminds me how much progress we have made to be able to monitor and predict the dynamics of the basin at a much higher spatial resolution now. The other one is a two-part paper by Sellers et al. (1996a,1996b) and describes the Simple Biosphere Model version 2 (SiB2). I spent so much time reading these papers the first time, to really understand how biosphere and atmosphere interact at the land surface; the description of the stomatal conductance parameterization is my favorite section of the paper, where I could really see the contribution from biology and ecology to hydrology and meteorology.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
I absolutely love spending time with my 9 year old daughter on weekends. We go for bike rides or parks, and sometimes play board games at home (it can get a bit rainy in the UK). I also go for nature or coastal walks with my family on weekends (the UK countryside and coast is really beautiful). I have recently start enjoying more and more reading manga and watching Japanese anime, and occasionally I play my drums (big Ramones and Dave Matthews Band fan). I also enjoy meditating and playing old video games (I’ve got a classic NES at home which is fun and always brings good memories).