Interdisciplinary dialogue to assess coupled natural and human systems

Neha Gupta1, Emily V. Bell2

1Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

2School of Government and Public Policy, Th University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

This study reviews socioecological linkages found in coupled natural and human systems of urban water governance. Coupled natural and human systems (CNH) are systems in which human and natural components are intertwined. Urban areas, in particular, are natural laboratories for CNH systems, and can be used to assess a number of issues such as the impact of stormwater infrastructure upon hydrological functioning. A study of CNH systems can unveil dynamic interactions between social components such as local governance and natural components such as hydrological responses to intense rainfall, in order to assess the impact of green infrastructure (GI) installation in urban areas. Evidence from these assessments informs policy and governance decisions designed to enhance sustainability, and can be adapted to suit the needs of various urban settings.

Coupling within CNH systems also takes place across nested scales, ranging from the sub-lot scale to the regional and global scale (Liu et al., 2007).  Understanding hydrologic functioning at the lot scale through the watershed and regional scale is of particular importance when developing models to inform policy makers and community groups. Relevant stakeholders at local, regional, and state levels can use this knowledge to coordinate and address ecosystem challenges spanning jurisdictional boundaries.  Furthermore, policies and strategies informed by scientific evidence can benefits economic and social structures included in natural resource management.

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