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ASU hosts second Chinese science delegation


December 17, 2009

Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City hosted a delegation from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG), part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, on Dec. 14.

The visit was the second meeting and exchange of ideas with members of the Chinese scientific community in two months, following close upon the heels of an Oct. 26-27 DCDC workshop co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and National Natural Science Foundation China. Download Full Image

It continues a DCDC’s tradition of international cooperation with other cities and nations facing the unique challenges of arid environments, including Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

“International cooperation is vital to understanding and confronting the uncertainties inherent in climate change,” said DCDC co-director Patricia Gober. “Pooling knowledge regarding the sustainability challenges unique to desert environments is particularly valuable to our own mission of fostering better decision-making in the desert city of Phoenix.”

XIEG (http://english.egi.cas.cn/" target="_blank">http://english.egi.cas.cn/) focuses on strategic resource development and utilization, ecological security and sustainable development in arid areas. Their research includes oasis system evolution and ecological agriculture, ecosystem restoration, desertification prevention and sustainable resource development. The institute reached out to DCDC as part of its effort to build an eminent global research institute known for arid environment research.

“There are similarities between Phoenix and Xinjiang, including a fragile eco-system, land-use land cover conversion, and potential and uncertain impacts of climate on the region,” said Darren Ruddell, a post-doctoral research associate with the Global Institute of Sustainability affiliated with DCDC.

Following Gober’s welcoming address, DCDC GIS Developer/Analyst Mike Tschudi walked the visiting scientists through a WaterSim demonstration in the Decision Theater, ASU’s state-of-the art visualization and collaboration laboratory.

WaterSim (http://watersim.asu.edu/" target="_blank">http://watersim.asu.edu/) is DCDC's interactive simulation of water supply and demand for the Phoenix metropolitan area. It models water availability based on climate, drought, population, urbanization, land use and technology, along with the effects of policy decisions.

Delegates were then presented with a selection of DCDC research. Ruddell presented his research on physical and social dimensions of heat stress throughout metropolitan Phoenix. Ariane Middel, a DCDC post-doctoral research associate, and Anthony Brazel, professor and associate director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, discussed tradeoffs of water use and heat island dynamics. Craig Kirkwood, professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business, finished the presentation by delving into decision analysis research, specifically in the areas of uncertainty and value tradeoffs in water policymaking.

DCDC, part of GIOS, is one of five National Science Foundation-funded centers nationwide fostering better decision-making under climatic uncertainty. DCDC’s research focuses on applying this principle to the urbanizing desert of central Arizona.