A Kansas State University team is researching how climate change is affecting rainfall and weather patterns throughout Kansas to help with future adaptation and mitigation strategies. The research team, led by Stacy Hutchinson, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, is updating rainfall distribution data to ensure current stormwater management systems can handle future weather changes.
"We are looking at how the state can minimize risk by developing a better understanding of past weather variability while looking forward at the variability expected with future climate change -- whether it is farm production systems or stormwater management," Hutchinson said.
Collaborators on the project include Shawn Hutchinson, associate professor of geography; Aavudai Anandhi Swamy, research assistant professor of agronomy; and Vahid Rahmani, doctoral student in biological and agricultural engineering, Iran. Rahmani is researching Kansas rainfall data and recently received a first-place award at the K-State Research Forum for his oral presentation "Intense rainfall events distribution pattern in the state of Kansas."
"Our research involves understanding how climate change and land cover change -- which is the conversion of natural prairie land and agricultural land to urban and suburban land uses -- affect the potential for flooding," Hutchinson said. "It's where the variability of reality meets the built engineered world."
When engineers design stormwater management systems -- such as terraces and grass waterways in crop fields or storm sewers with underground pipes that transport road runoff to the nearest body of water -- these systems are usually designed to handle a specific storm. In the Manhattan area, natural systems such as grassed waterways and terraces are designed to handle slightly more than 3.5 inches of rain in 24 hours. This rainfall event is expected to happen once every 10 years.
Issues arise because the National Weather Service has not updated rainfall distribution maps for the state of Kansas since 1961. Researchers are updating this data to provide a more accurate weather benchmark that engineers can use when designing stormwater systems. Kansas is ideal for studying climate change and variability because there is more variability across Kansas than from the eastern edge of Kansas to the Atlantic Ocean, Hutchinson said.
To track weather patterns and understand how they have changed, the researchers conducted a similar analysis as the 1961 data. Rahmani studied weather and rainfall data from 24 weather stations in Kansas and 15 stations outside the state. The researchers noticed several trends in the data they collected.
"We're actually seeing more rain across the state, which is kind of surprising because we thought it would be getting drier in the western part of the state," Hutchinson said. "We are getting wetter across the state, but it is much more drastic in the southeast, where we are seeing more high-intensity storms."
The research team found that the 1961 data overestimated the size of storms. That means the currently designed systems are adequate for stormwater management, Hutchinson said, but if the shift in more rain and stronger weather events continues, stormwater systems may need to be redesigned.
"There is discussion among the engineering community about if we need to rethink the size of storm that we design for," Hutchinson said. "The bottom line is that now we have an idea of how weather trends have shifted across the state. This information will be useful to anybody who deals with stormwater runoff -- from the Kansas Department of Transportation to agricultural producers."
The research also is helpful for improving natural stormwater systems, which especially interests Hutchinson. She has studied how to move away from the concrete jungle of pipes and move toward more natural stormwater management systems, such as wetlands, rain gardens and terracing. Challenges exist with natural systems because climate and land cover changes have caused many more peaks and valleys in stormwater runoff -- from times with flooding to drought periods. As a result, natural systems tend to be at capacity in the spring because of increased rainfall and they tend to dry up during the summer when it rains less.
"We needed a better understanding of the variability of the weather so that we could better understand any risks with these natural systems," Hutchinson said. "The amount of water that flows through a pipe is pretty consistent and you can always size a pipe. But the amount of water that can be absorbed by a wetland systems is a lot more in August when it is hot and dry than it is in May."
The researchers are continuing to analyze data and are preparing the research for publication. Their work is funded as part of the $20 million Kansas National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research project researching global climate change and renewable energy research.
Stacy Hutchinson, 785-532-2943, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stacy Hutchinson | Newswise Science News
Making Oceans Plastic Free - Project tackles the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans
31.05.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Nitrogen Oxides Emissions: Traffic Dramatically Underestimated as Major Polluter
31.05.2017 | Universität Innsbruck
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences