Benjamin Lyle Ruddell

Benjamin Lyle Ruddell
Northern Arizona University | NAU · SICCS

Ph.D., P.E.

About

132
Publications
22,764
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
2,924
Citations
Introduction
A am currently a Professor in and the Director of the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems at Northern Arizona University, the President of Ruddell Environmental consulting, Chief Science Officer for Criticality Sciences Inc., and the Director of the FEWSION project. My PhD is in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am a registered Professional Engineer in Arizona (Water Resources practice).
Additional affiliations
July 2016 - present
Northern Arizona University
Position
  • Managing Director
January 2009 - July 2016
Arizona State University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Education
August 2002 - December 2008
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Field of study
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering, Hydrology and Water Resources
August 2000 - August 2002
Calvin College
Field of study
  • Engineering (Civil Concentration)

Publications

Publications (132)
Article
Full-text available
With projected temperature increases and extreme events due to climate change for many regions of the world, characterizing the impacts of these emerging hazards on water distribution systems is necessary to identify and prioritize adaptation strategies for ensuring reliability. To aid decision-making, new insights are needed into how water distrib...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental flows are critical for balancing societal water needs with that of riverine ecosystems; however, data limitations often hinder the development of predictive relationships between anthropogenic modifications to streamflow regimes and ecological responses – these relationships are the basis for setting regional water policy standards fo...
Article
The demand for ‘local food’ by U.S. consumers has grown markedly over the last several decades, accompanied by confusion over how to define local food. Is ‘local’ food defined by the location of the farm, food processing factory, distribution warehouse, or all three? Is ‘local’ food defined by geographic, political, or biophysical boundaries? Is ‘l...
Article
Full-text available
In the United States, greater attention has been given to developing water supplies and quantifying available waters than determining who uses water, how much they withdraw and consume, and how and where water use occurs. As water supplies are stressed due to an increasingly variable climate, changing land‐use, and growing water needs, greater cons...
Article
The Colorado River Basin is a hydrologic river network that directs runoff from rain and snow falling on mountains, primarily in Colorado and Wyoming, to the Colorado River Delta in Mexico. Over the last century, in response to basin‐wide water shortages, legal agreements between stakeholders in seven U.S. states and Mexico, hydrologic flows from u...
Conference Paper
Around the world, urban development and densification leads to the Urban Heat Islands (UHI) effect, in which cities are warmer than adjoining rural areas. Cool pavements have been recommended as a mitigating strategy for the UHI effect. However, the spatial extent over which cool pavements need to be applied to achieve widespread mitigation has rec...
Article
Full-text available
The potential of ecological restoration and green infrastructure has been long suggested in the literature as adaptation strategies for a changing climate, with an emphasis on revegetation and, more recently, carbon sequestration and stormwater management. Tree planting and “natural” stormwater detention structures such as bioswales, stormwater det...
Article
Full-text available
Food supply shocks are increasing worldwide1,2, particularly the type of shock wherein food production or distribution loss in one location propagates through the food supply chain to other locations3,4. Analogous to biodiversity buffering ecosystems against external shocks5,6, ecological theory suggests that food supply chain diversity is crucial...
Article
Flooding is the most common natural hazard, leading to property damage, injuries, and death. Despite the potential for major consequences, urban flooding remains difficult to forecast, largely due to a lack of data availability at fine spatial scales and associated predictive capabilities. Crowdsourcing of public webcams, social media, and citizen...
Article
Full-text available
Local business leaders, policy makers, elected officials, city planners, emergency managers, and private citizens are responsible for, and deeply affected by, the performance of critical supply chains and related infrastructures. At the center of critical supply chains is the food-energy-water nexus (FEW); a nexus that is key to a community’s wellb...
Article
Full-text available
One of the main objectives of the scientific enterprise is the development of well-performing yet parsimonious models for all natural phenomena and systems. In the 21st century, scientists usually represent their models, hypotheses, and experimental observations using digital computers. Measuring performance and parsimony of computer models is ther...
Article
Full-text available
Accurately measuring water use by the economy is essential for developing reliable models of water resource availability. Indeed, these models rely on retrospective analyses that provide insights into shifting human population demands and adaptions to water shortages. However, accurate, methodologically consistent, empirically authentic, and spatio...
Article
Full-text available
A more precise understanding of individual-level heat exposure may be helpful to advance knowledge about heat-health impacts and effective intervention strategies, especially in light of projected increases in the severity and frequency of extreme heat events. We developed and interrogated different metrics for quantifying personal heat exposure an...
Chapter
Earth's rivers are at risk. Across the globe, rivers have been dammed, diverted, straightened, and polluted. Increasing human population, growing economic productivity, and climate change have caused a drastic increase in altered rivers during the Anthropocene. Rivers provide a host of societal benefits such as energy production, food production, i...
Article
Modern cities, along with their researchers and innovators can benefit from applying " big data" to their sustainability and infrastructure problems and policies, e.g., water and energy consumption. Unfortunately, current utility customer data (UCD) privacy rulemaking fails to ensure safe release of these data for the public benefit and does not cu...
Article
Full-text available
Food-energy-water (FEW) resources are necessary for the function of multiple socio-natural systems. Understanding the synergies and trade-offs in the FEW nexus, and how these interconnections impact earth’s systems, is critical to ensure adequate access to these resources in the future; an essential component for achieving the Sustainable Developme...
Article
Recent decades have produced a river of field data linking hydrologic alteration to fish populations in hundreds of U.S. river systems. Adverse impact thresholds and relationships between flow alteration and fish populations are key for advancing environmental flow conservation and environmental flow regulations in U.S. waterways. Prior work has es...
Chapter
Trade is a key feature of the FEW Nexus. Typically, the practical goals of the Nexus are straightforward - decrease demands for FEW commodities, increase supplies, increase storage buffers, increase transportation and trade capacity and connectivity, and do so in the presence of climate change, population growth, growing wealth and consumption, and...
Chapter
Throughout this book, we note the interdisciplinary nature of nexus research: engaging the full range of physical, life, social, and engineering sciences and integrating them through sophisticated models. Because the objective of Nexus research is to support decision-making ranging from the level of an individual facility to the global Sustainable...
Chapter
Infrastructures handle high-volume goods and services that require heavily capitalized, large-scale, durable, reliable, shared, interdependent, and specialized systems. Infrastructure facilitates social, economic, and environmental functions by achieving a high degree of efficiency at a low marginal cost to produce, transport, distribute, quality-c...
Chapter
We will begin by exploring the relationship between science and the type of human-centric challenges confronted in the nexus of FEW systems. We will then explore the wide range of scales in space and time, which arise in FEW nexus studies. These scales are rooted in factors related to decision-making; natural, political, and cultural geography; eco...
Chapter
After analyzing the idea of food, energy, and water security, we will look through the lens of demographics to see the complexities of engaging the world’s population in our study of the nexus. We will examine the concept of development in countries and the human development of people within a country. Based on these elements, we will explore effor...
Chapter
In this chapter, we shift from “what is” to “what might be.” We begin by exploring some criteria for identifying real-world challenges that provide greater impetus and opportunity for applying integrated FEW science to real-world practice. There is the greatest opportunity for FEW Nexus applications to improve outcomes where there is a specific com...
Chapter
Systems describe a whole composed of many interacting parts with a unifying framework; boundaries in space and time; external forcing factors; structural arrangements; functions; change and variability; and humans as both forcings and participants in the system. The nature of a system is to some degree, either simple or complicated or complex. This...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract. One of the main objectives of the scientific enterprise is the development of parsimonious yet well-performing models for all natural phenomena and systems. In the 21<sup>st</sup> century, scientists usually represent their models, hypotheses, and experimental observations using digital computers. Measuring performance and parsimony for c...
Article
Full-text available
Human consumption of freshwater is now approaching or surpassing the rate at which water sources are being naturally replenished in many regions, creating water shortage risks for people and ecosystems. Here we assess the impact of human water uses and their connection to water scarcity and ecological damage across the United States, identify prima...
Article
Full-text available
Through the trade of products and services, cities indirectly depend on distant water sources to function, prosper, and grow. To fully account for indirect (virtual) water dependencies, virtual water flows need to be known along complex supply chains. To this purpose, we build a new environmental multiregional input–output model for U.S. regions. T...
Article
Full-text available
Model evaluation and hypothesis testing are fundamental to any field of science. We propose here that by changing slightly the way we think and communicate about inference—from being fundamentally a problem of uncertainty quantification to being a problem of information quantification—allows us to avoid certain problems related to testing models as...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of causal interactions between components is an integral part of hydrology and Earth system sciences. Modelers, decision makers, scientists, and other water resources stakeholders all utilize some notion of cause-and-effect to understand processes, make decisions, and infer how systems react to change. However, there are different persp...
Article
Full-text available
Occam's Razor is a bedrock principle of science philosophy, stating that the simplest hypothesis (or model) is preferred, at any given level of model predictive performance. A modern restatement often attributed to Einstein explains, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Using principles from (algorithmic) information...
Book
This book provides a substantive integrated introduction to the food-energy-water nexus suitable for use in higher level undergraduate and graduate level courses and for scholars moving into the field of nexus studies without a strong background in all three areas and the many aspects of nexus studies. The book will include little or no mathematica...
Article
Full-text available
Feedbacks between atmospheric processes like precipitation and land surface fluxes including evapotranspiration are difficult to observe, but critical for understanding the role of the land surface in the Earth System. To quantify global surface-atmosphere feedbacks we use results of a process network (PN) applied to 251 eddy covariance sites from...
Article
Cities are particularly vulnerable to cloudbursts-short-duration, intense rainfall events-which are often inadequately addressed through conventional stormwater and flood management policy. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of cloudbursts in many cities. As minor cloudburst events become more frequent and extreme e...
Article
Full-text available
Urban areas are characterized by a large proportion of artificial surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt, which absorb and store more heat than natural vegetation, leading to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Cool pavements, walls, and roofs have been suggested as a solution to mitigate UHI, but their effectiveness depends on local land-use patte...
Article
Full-text available
Because of the possibility of getting the right answers for the wrong reasons, the predictive performance of a complex systems model is not by itself a reliable indicator of hypothesis quality for the purposes of scientific learning about processes. The predictive performance of a structurally adequate model should be an emergent property of its fu...
Article
Full-text available
Problems at the nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (FEWS) are among the most complex challenges we face. Spanning simple to complex temporal, geographic, social, and political framings, the questions raised at this nexus require multidisciplinary if not transdisciplinary approaches. Answers to these questions must draw from engineering, the ph...
Article
Ecosystems can be characterized as complex systems that traverse a variety of functional and structural states in response to changing bioclimatic forcings. A central challenge of global change biology is the robust empirical description of these states and state transitions. An ecosystem's functional state can be empirically described using Proces...
Article
Full-text available
Traditional infrastructure adaptation to extreme weather events (and now climate change) has typically been techno-centric and heavily grounded in robustness—the capacity to prevent or minimize disruptions via a risk-based approach that emphasizes control, armoring, and strengthening (e.g., raising the height of levees). However, climate and noncli...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the centrality of the water balance equation to hydrology and water resources, in 2018 we still lack adequate empirical observations of consumptive use of water by humans and their economy. It is therefore worth considering what we can do with the withdrawal-based water use data we already possess, and what future water census measurements...
Article
We propose a conceptual and theoretical foundation for information-based model benchmarking and process diagnostics that provides diagnostic insight into model performance and model realism. We benchmark against a bounded estimate of the information contained in model inputs to obtain a bounded estimate of information lost due to model error, and w...
Article
In the coming decades, ambient temperature increase from climate change threatens to reduce not only the availability of water, but also the operational reliability of engineered water systems. Relatively little is known about how temperature stress can increasingly cause hardware components to fail, quality to be affected, and service outages to o...
Article
Full-text available
Flash droughts tend to be disproportionately destructive because they intensify rapidly and are difficult to prepare for. We demonstrate that the 2017 US Northern Great Plains (NGP) flash drought was preceded by a breakdown of land–atmosphere coupling. Severe drought conditions in the NGP were first identified by drought monitors in late May 2017 a...
Article
Full-text available
Thresholds are an emergent property of complex systems and Coupled Natural Human Systems (CNH) because they indicate “tipping points” where a complicated array of social, environmental, and/or economic processes combine to substantially change a system’s state. Because of the elegance of the concept, thresholds have emerged as one of the primary to...
Article
Full-text available
Food flows underpin the complex food supply chains that are prevalent in our increasingly globalized world. Recently, much effort has been devoted to evaluating the resources (e.g. water, carbon, nutrients) embodied in food trade. Now, research is needed to understand the scientific principles of the food commodity flows that underpin these virtual...
Article
Food, energy, and water (FEW) are interdependent and must be examined as a coupled natural-human system. This perspective essay defines FEW systems and outlines key findings about them as a blueprint for future models to satisfy six key objectives. The first three focus on linking the FEW production and consumption to impacts on Earth cycles in a s...
Article
Full-text available
This paper quantifies and maps a spatially detailed and economically complete blue water footprint for the United States, utilizing the National Water Economy Database version 1.1 (NWED). NWED utilizes multiple mesoscale (county-level) federal data resources from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the United States Department of Agricultur...
Article
Full-text available
Flash droughts tend to be disproportionately destructive because they intensify rapidly and are difficult to prepare for. We demonstrate that the 2017 U.S. Northern Great Plains (NGP) flash drought was preceded by a breakdown of land-atmosphere coupling. Severe drought conditions in the NGP were first identified by drought monitors in late May 2017...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the centrality of the water balance equation to hydrologic and hydraulic science and engineering, in 2018 we lack empirical observations of consumptive use of water by humans and their economy. It is therefore worth considering what we can do with the withdrawal-based water use data we already possess, and what future measurements would be...
Article
Full-text available
Urban ecosystems are widely hypothesized to be more ecologically homogeneous than natural ecosystems. We argue that urban plant communities assemble from a complex mix of horticultural and regional species pools, and evaluate the homogenization hypothesis by comparing cultivated and spontaneously occurring urban vegetation to natural area vegetatio...
Article
Full-text available
This paper quantifies and maps a spatially detailed and economically complete blue water footprint for the United States, utilizing the National Water Economy Database version 1.1 (NWED). NWED utilizes multiple mesoscale federal data resources from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U...
Article
Climate non-stationarity is a challenge for electric power infrastructure reliability; recordbreaking heat waves significantly affect peak demand [1], lower contingency capacities, and expose cities to risk of blackouts due to component failures and security threats. The United States’ electric grid operates safely for a wide range of load, weather...
Conference Paper
Power system planning and operations are significantly affected by the air temperature patterns within a geographic region. Climate non-stationarity, including more severe heat waves, thus presents new challenges for maintaining reliable infrastructure operations. This is especially risky in the U.S. Southwest because the region heavily uses electr...
Conference Paper
A new design paradigm is needed for infrastructure designers to quantitatively anticipate how reliability may be affected by increases in failures of components and processes from climate change stressors, and where efforts should be focused to prevent and prepare for failures. Two systems reliability modeling tools are presented using urban water...
Article
There is an ongoing debate whether energy efficiency retrofits save energy in practice. This paper quantifies the energy savings of the Energize Phoenix program in Phoenix, Arizona. Impacts of retrofits are analyzed using pre-post treatment billing data from January 2008 to April 2013, covering 201 residential buildings and 636 commercial buildings...
Article
Full-text available
Cities are concentrations of sociopolitical power and prime architects of land transformation, while also serving as consumption hubs of "hard" water and energy infrastructures. These infrastructures extend well outside metropolitan boundaries and impact distal river ecosystems. We used a comprehensive model to quantify the roles of anthropogenic s...
Article
Full-text available
Conventional indicators of water use for urban areas account primarily for direct water use. In contrast, our objective here is to employ the water footprint (WF) concept and methodology to include the virtual or indirect water use to assess the production-side and consumption-side WF of 65 United States (U.S.) cities. The 65 cities include the lar...
Article
Emerging interdisciplinary science efforts are providing new understanding of the interdependence of food, energy, and water (FEW) systems. These science advances, in turn, provide critical information for coordinated management to improve the affordability, reliability, and environmental sustainability of FEW systems. Here we describe the current...
Article
This work investigates the diurnal and seasonal behavior of the energy balance residual (E) that results from the observed difference between available energy and the turbulent fluxes of sensible heat (H) and latent heat (LE) at the FLUXNET BR-Ma2 site located in the Brazilian central Amazon rainforest. The behavior of E is analyzed by extending th...
Article
Full-text available
Research on urban ecosystems rapidly expanded in the 1990s and is now a central topic in ecosystem science. In this paper, we argue that there are two critical challenges for ecosystem science that are rooted in urban ecosystems: (1) predicting or explaining the assembly and function of novel communities and ecosystems under altered environmental c...
Article
Full-text available
Ambient air temperatures are expected to increase in the US desert southwest by 1-5 °C mid-century which will strain the electric power grid through increased loads, reduced power capacities, efficiencies, and material lifespans. To better understand and quantify this risk, a power infrastructure failure model is created to estimate changes in outa...