Solutions to global water crisis sought in Scotland

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Andrew Tyler
Professor Andrew Tyler.

Professor Andrew Tyler has spoken of the University’s work to mitigate the effects of climate change to mark the 30th anniversary of World Water Day.

The annual event was first marked in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly with the aim of raising awareness of the global water and sanitation crisis and accelerating action to resolve it.

Professor Tyler is Scotland Hydro Nation Chair, leading a collaboration across the Scottish water sector aimed at delivering sustainable water management.

Professor Tyler said: “Whether we like it or not, we’re now living at a time when the environment is changing at a rate that is unique in our planet’s history. Water is the primary medium through which we in the UK are feeling the effects of a changing climate.

“We are witnessing increasing rainfall intensity separated by ever prolonged periods of drought - hydrological extremes that result in shocks to our natural and built environment. Just one of many examples of this is increased surface water runoff which overwhelms our sewage systems and wastewater treatment operations, spilling untreated effluent into our rivers.

“Despite such shocks, the natural diversity of our landscape presents opportunities to find nature-based solutions to help us adapt to and mitigate against climate extremes - and right here in Scotland intensive work is going on to do just that.”

At the vanguard is Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC), a multi-million pounds government-backed initiative led by the University of Stirling and funded through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal.

The first phase of SIEC is a regional scale living laboratory known as the Forth Valley Environmental Resilience Array (Forth-ERA) which will harness sensor networks and satellite technologies, as well as autonomous vehicles, coupling these with modelling and artificial intelligence capabilities to deliver a Digital Observatory of the Firth of Forth.

This will provide vital information in real-time on water quality and quantity, and other factors, to mitigate the extreme effects of climate change. Currently in its build and test phase, the ambition is to scale up the digital observatory across the UK and internationally to the benefit of all.

Professor Tyler’s article ‘Scotland's role in seeking solutions to global water crisis’ was published in the Herald today.

Watch Professor Andrew Tyler talk about Forth-ERA