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Grand Challenge Statement

Through the Appalachian Freshwater Initiative Grand Challenge, we will advance understanding of ecological and biological impacts of contaminants in water under varying climates to meet West Virginia and regional needs for safe and secure water. Inter and intra-institutional groups investigating pollutant sensing technologies, abiotic and biotic complexities of perturbations of water quality, and modeling of these complex systems, will integrate ideas, approaches and technologies to further stimulate innovation, discovery and advancement of science and resource management.

Grand Challenge Question: How do the harvesting of wood products, the extraction of energy resources, the production of energy, and the synthesis of chemical products, for the benefit of much of the country, impact environmental health in Appalachia? AFI was designed to answer this question by targeting innovation in the speed and sensitivity of pollution detection, the resolution of sub-lethal impacts on function from the cellular to the watershed scale, and by modeling how pollutants, and their impacts, migrate through aquatic environments – both under current flow regimes and those that can be expected as a consequence of climate change.

Overarching questions:
  • What are the principal chemical, physical and biological threats to safe and secure water resources in the State of West Virginia?
  • What are the fundamental relationships between chemical, physical and biological impacts from the molecular to the watershed scale?
  • What can models reveal about fate and transport of pollutants resulting from land use practices and climate change?
Hypotheses:
  • HA(1): Inter and intra-institutional groups investigating pollutant sensing technologies will integrate ideas, approaches and technologies to further stimulate innovation, discovery and advancement of freshwater science and resource management.
  • HA(2): Inter and intra-institutional groups investigating abiotic and biotic complexities of perturbations of water quality will integrate ideas, approaches and technologies to further stimulate innovation, discovery and advancement of freshwater science and resource management.
  • HA(3): Inter and intra-institutional groups investigating modeling of complex water resources systems, will integrate ideas, approaches and technologies to further stimulate innovation, discovery and advancement of freshwater science and resource management.
  • HA(4): Inter and intra-institutional groups investigating pollutant sensing technologies, abiotic and biotic complexities of perturbations of water quality, and modeling of these complex systems, will integrate ideas, approaches and technologies to further stimulate innovation, discovery and advancement through monthly teleconferences, annual meetings and conferences and other periodic technology transfer events.