Auburn College of Agriculture faculty member receives NSF CAREER award for studying flash drought

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Di Tian, ​​an assistant professor in the Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences at Auburn University College of Agriculture, was named the recipient of National Science’s Early Career Development or CAREER Award. Foundation.

The CAREER program is a foundation-wide activity that offers NSF’s most prestigious awards to support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to make advance the mission of their department or organization. The activities pursued by early career faculty should provide a solid foundation for a lifetime of leadership in the integration of education and research.

Tian’s award is for his integrated project titled “Analytical Methods to Understand and Predict Agricultural Flash Droughts in a Changing Climate.” The total award is $574,706 over five years, co-funded by the NSF Hydrologic Sciences and NSF Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics programs.

The research, Tian said, will investigate the underlying drivers of agricultural flash droughts using machine learning-based causal inference analysis, develop and evaluate sub-seasonal agricultural flash drought predictions. using deep learning approaches and will assess agricultural flash drought changes in contemporary and future climate. on coupled general circulation models of large ensembles.

“These research objectives will be incorporated into an education and outreach plan focused on developing and implementing innovative lessons about drought through the 4-H “Head, Heart, Hands and Health” program, in conducting workshops on sub-seasonal forecasting and decision-making with stakeholders through a climate learning network and mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students,” Tian said.

The deliverables of this project will help improve the understanding and forecasting of flash droughts on a regional scale and provide a framework for analyzing a broader class of extreme climate events, which will be transferable to different locations around the world. -he adds.

Flash drought, Tian said, is an extreme hydro-climatic event characterized by sudden onset, rapid intensification and devastating impact on communities. A notable example is the southeastern United States flash drought in September 2019.

“It rapidly depletes soil moisture, posing significant water and heat stresses to agriculture and ecosystems and potentially driving water demand and the expansion of irrigation in traditionally rainfed regions,” he said. he declares. “Flash droughts are difficult to predict due to their rapid onset and development and the complex land-ocean-atmosphere factors that contribute to or affect their formation. The NSF CAREER Award allows me to explore the immediate goal of understanding and predict flash droughts, which can potentially accelerate climate change adaptation strategies.

“It also encourages me to continuously pursue my long-term research goal of integrating terrestrial hydrology, climatology and data science to fill gaps and needs to better understand and predict impacts and risks. hydroclimatic studies on water and food sustainability, and my educational goal to integrate research and real-world applications to improve learning and climate-sensitive decision-making.

Tian’s lab, Climate Analytics Group, focuses on understanding and predicting key climate and hydrological indicators, extreme events, and impacts on water resources, ecosystem, and food and agriculture in using data science and artificial intelligence techniques, process-based modeling, high performance computing and emerging technologies. Earth system data generated from digital simulations, sensors and satellites.

(Written by Paul Hollis)

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