Watershed Symposium 2018 has ended
Welcome to the official website of the 12th Annual Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium, November 14-15, 2018!  Free and open to all, the Symposium encourages a comprehensive review of the current state of our watershed while creating learning and networking opportunities for a broad array of stakeholders. Sessions cover a broad range of topics on water quality and watershed issues with local, regional, and national relevance. Hosted annually by Salt Lake County Watershed Planning & Restoration.

Powerpoints and audio recordings are available.  Click on a session and scroll down to the attached files.
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Wednesday, November 14 • 1:40pm - 2:10pm
Misrepresenting the Water Cycle in Educational Literature

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Misrepresenting the Water Cycle in Educational Literature

We compared 464 diagrams of the water cycle from peer-reviewed articles, textbooks, and online sources in 12 countries, and determined the vast majority of the water cycle depictions inaccurately represented the affect of humans on the water cycle, along climate change and pollution's effects on the global water crisis.

Full Abstract
Increasing human water demand and large-scale human interference with the water cycle have created a global crisis of water quality and quantity. To assess recent advances in our understanding of the water cycle, we compiled over 50 modelled and empirical studies of global water pools and fluxes, including human use. We compared this new synthesis of the global water cycle with 464 diagrams of the water cycle from peer-reviewed articles, textbooks, and online sources in 12 countries. Human consumptive water use ranged from 3,800 to 5,000 km^3 yr^-1, brushing up dangerously to estimates of accessible and sustainable water resources 5,000 to 9,000 km^3 yr ^-1), and total human water appropriation (green, blue, and gray water use) equaled 23,400 km^3 yr^-1, the equivalent of half the water transported from ocean to land by the atmosphere. Despite this large human water footprint, humans were depicted interacting with the water cycle in only 15% of diagrams overall, and in less than 5% of diagrams from China, the USA, and Australia. Additionally, climate change and water pollution, two of the dominant causes of the global water crisis, were depicted in less than 2% of diagrams globally. As a first step toward improving understanding of the water cycle and fostering planetary thinking in the Anthropocene, we present a new diagram of the global water cycle based on new estimates of global water pools and fluxes and recent advances in understanding of human interactions with the global water cycle.

We believe this presentation (based on a paper in review) will be of great interest to audience members for two main reasons:
  1. Our synthesis of water pools and fluxes in the Anthropocene is the most complete to date and the first to integrate all types of human water use and interference at a global scale. It will serve as a reference for researchers from all disciplines and because we present our water cycle estimates in a professionally produced diagram, and we offer real solutions for how to teach the water cycle and depict it in educational literature. 
  2. The analysis of water cycle diagrams across disciplines and countries demonstrates widespread inaccuracies that correspond directly with mismanagement of water in the Anthropocene. This presentation identifies the causes of these misconceptions and maps a path towards sustainable water management in the face of growing human pressure.

avatar for Madeline Buhman

Madeline Buhman

Research Assistant, Brigham Young University
Madeline Buhman is a Senior at Brigham Young University studying Environmental Science and English. She currently works for Ben Abbott in his lab of ecosystem ecology, and after her graduation she hopes to pursue a PhD in Environmental Science. Specifically Madeline is interested... Read More →

Wednesday November 14, 2018 1:40pm - 2:10pm MST
Lower Level - Ballroom A/B Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W 3100 S, West Valley City, UT 84119