Modeling The Hydrosocial Cycle In Two California Coastal Watersheds, 2017–

The standard hydrologic cycle reimagined as a coastal hydro-social cycle (Image by author 2017).

Katherine G. Sammler, California State University Maritime Academy, Global Studies & Maritime Affairs
Lily House-Peters, California State University Long Beach, Geography

Social scientists have long sought for water to be understood as more than just a physical phenomenon, but an important part of our social and political spheres as well. Large-scale drought across California has brought water management into the forefront of discussions of sustainability and good governance. However, freshwater is only one fragment of the hydrological cycle, just one aspect of human interaction with water. From groundwater to atmospheric water vapor, humans interact with, interrupt, and fundamentally disrupt the hydrologic cycle at multiple points via the withdrawal, consumption, and disposal of water. As the terminal downstream, the ocean and coastal systems it supports, are highly impacted by human activity across the hydrologic cycle.
Yet hydro-social research has focused primarily on inland watersheds and their terrestrial components, with limited attention to coastal watersheds and the unique flows and processes where rivers meet the sea. This workshop engages the theoretical framework of the hydrosocial cycle to draw together an interdisciplinary team of natural and social scientists to explore the critical issue of the cumulative impacts of human disruption of the hydrological cycle on coastal areas and ocean health. The workshop invites participants with diverse expertise in fresh and marine water science and management at different stages throughout the hydrological cycle to produce an innovative hydrosocial cycle model to inform watershed scale management with an explicit focus on social and physical terrestrial-coastal-ocean interlinkages.


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