I am the Rudy L. Slingerland Early Career Professor of Geosciences at Penn State. My research addresses hydrologic system responses to environmental change. I am interested in (1) developing methods to help quantify the relative impacts of human and natural drivers on hydrologic systems, (2) developing models of the system to project future conditions and test management strategies, and (3) using field observations and modeling to improve our understanding of fundamental physical processes. To address these goals, I use field instrumentation and observations, numerical and statistical models, GIS, and laboratory analyses.
Much of my current work aims to improve agricultural management practices to protect water supplies from over-exploitation and contamination while meeting food security goals.
- We use Bayesian methods to estimate unknown parameters for solving the water mass balance. Unknown parameters include aquifer properties and total water pumped for irrigation. Estimated parameter distributions are used to test future management scenarios to help restore falling water table levels. Initial results show that replacement of rice with traditionally grown pulses or other cereals is an effective method, and in most states in critical groundwater overdraft condition, will stabilize or increase water table elevations.
- Following three years of testing tensiometers to improve irrigation efficiency, we are partnering with Toro to test their soil moisture sensing equipment in the field. Data from the wireless moisture sensor can be used to control power to the irrigation pump, thus improving irrigation efficiency and reducing farm labor.
- We are collecting water samples from several deep wells throughout Punjab for radio-carbon age dating analysis. This data will help us understand recharge rates and dynamics.
Kenya and Tanzania
- As the African Green Revolution encourages higher fertilizer application, the potential risks of nitrate leaching are increasing. In collaboration with Columbia University's Agriculture and Food Security Center, I am modeling fluid and solute transport through the vadose zone using soil sensor and nitrate measurements for calibration.
- The soil types at our two field areas in Kenya and Tanzania are predominantly clayey and sandy, respectively. As such, we expect the flow dynamics and chemical transport to vary between the two sites, which ultimately might result in different fertilizer application recommendations in order to protect their local water supplies.
- In the United States, groundwater accounts for 60% of irrigation and provides drinking water for more than 40% of the population. As a critical national resource, it is important that water users and managers are aware of groundwater level trends and the dominant controls on availability. The objective of this study is to (1) quantify groundwater level trends over the past 60 years, (2) determine how groundwater level correlate with extraction rates, and (3) determine how groundwater levels correlate to local precipitation and long-term climate cycles.
- Preliminary results are available in a White Paper, published by the Columbia Water Center. We are continuing to research correlations with climate phenomena.
- "Comment on “Quantifying renewable groundwater stress with GRACE" by A. S. Richey et al." by Sahoo, Russo, and Lall raises questions about trends in groundwater storage change estimated using GRACE data and groundwater measurements. The comment is in press at Water Resources Research.
- "Assessment of managed aquifer recharge site and influence using a GIS and numerical modeling", by Russo, Fisher, and Lockwood, is in press at Groundwater and is now available online.
- "Assessment of agricultural water management in Punjab, India using Bayesian methods", by Russo, Devineni, and Lall, is an invited submission to the book, Sustainability of Integrated Water Resources Management: Water Governance, Climate and Ecohydrology, edited by S.G. Setegn and M.C. Donoso, currently in press by Springer.