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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Science to Inform the Reconnection of Floodplains and Restoration of Green Space to Minimize Risk in the Future


This project identifies opportunities to manage flows, connections, and landscapes to increase the resilience of human communities and ecosystems. This research identifies dynamic and adaptive solutions to managing river flows that allow continued provision of valuable infrastructure services such as flood control, hydropower, and water supply, while also supporting thriving river ecosystems - both today and into the future. The goals of the research were to: 1) Evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on hydrologic regimes, 2) Determine the flow regime changes that will be required to provide riverine environmental services and any risk associated with these changes, and 3) Explore management alternatives that mitigate potential negative impacts and improve system robustness. Project goals were performed by: 1) Explicitly incorporating land use and climate change projections into hydrologic models to determine effects on stream flow, including changes in streamflow volumes, timing of runoff, and frequency of extreme events; 2) Developing economic and physical measures of floodplain performance that captured the environmental services provided and the losses associated with changing flow regimes, 3) Evaluating how the effectiveness of green infrastructure strategies, including floodplain protection and storage, would alter these effects, 4) Developing a structured decision-making framework that incorporates short-term streamflow forecasting, environmental services damage functions, and adaptive management strategies.