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22-6. Integrated water availability modeling

We seek a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Scholar to investigate water availability -- sufficient quality and quantity with respect to human and ecological demand -- and sustainable water management or policy, including human system interactions, through a variety of different modeling approaches in selected basins or at a national scale.  

Description of the Research Opportunity

The scientific challenge of addressing water needs of the 21st century is complex. Better integration of data, knowledge of complex hydrologic systems, and modeling tools across scientific disciplines, programs, and agencies will be required to improve and accelerate the development of water prediction capabilities. To face growing demand on the Nation’s water resources, the Integrated Water Prediction (IWP) program is developing the capacity to predict water availability through integrated models of the complete hydrologic cycle, including both natural and human systems, that traditionally have been modeled separately.   

The IWP program seeks to advance nationally consistent modeling approaches driven by the best available data representing climatological and land use change. The Mendenhall postdoctoral scholar will explore how to improve long-term scenario-based projections of hydrologic states, fluxes, and outcomes for water availability. Specifically, predictions of water availability at a range of temporal and spatial scales will be improved by modeling water budgets, water use, temperature, constituents, and/or ecological conditions.  

In addition to modeling and improving our understanding of physical hydrologic systems, the Mendenhall postdoctoral scholar will examine and enhance the utility of process-based, data-driven, and/or hybrid approaches to study the vulnerability and resilience of human and natural systems at many scales in a flexible, modular way by utilizing best practices for software prototyping and engineering.  

Because the behavior of earth systems are not known with certainty, characterizing earth and human systems with data, observations, and models– and ultimately predicting future water availability– has inherent uncertainties. The Mendenhall postdoctoral scholar will explore the implications of these uncertainties on the accuracy and interpretation of future projections of water availability.  

Key questions the Mendenhall research could address include: 

  • How do components of water supply, quality, and demand vary over time and space? ​ 

  • Where and when is there an imbalance between supply and demand, and what is the cause?   ​ 

  • What factors are driving this variability?​ 

  • What are the relative influences of climate change, land use change, and water use and management practices?  ​ 

  • What is the potential vulnerability and resilience of human populations and ecosystems to water shortages, surpluses, and degradation of water quality? ​ 

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas. 


Proposed Duty Station(s)

Location negotiable


Areas of PhD

Hydrology, geology, Earth sciences or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered) 



Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications:  Research Hydrologist, Research Physical Scientist, Research Civil Engineer, Research Environmental Engineer 

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)