Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface AGU News

Incoming Editor Seeks Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Research

Martyn Clark, incoming editor in chief for Water Resources Research, foresees interdisciplinary and collaborative hydrology research, increased article impact, and an improved article review process.


Martyn Clark of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has been appointed to lead the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) journal Water Resources Research (WRR). This month he takes over as editor in chief of the journal from Alberto Montanari of the University of Bologna.

Clark is a senior scientist in the Hydrometeorological Applications Program at NCAR. He was also elected an AGU Fellow in 2016, when he was recognized for his work on process-based hydrologic modeling.

Eos: What does it mean to you to serve as editor in chief of Water Resources Research?

Clark: My main motivation for accepting the WRR editor in chief position is to enhance the quality and impact of hydrologic science. I see several high-level opportunities: I want the journal to encourage cross-fertilization among different schools of thought, give more recognition and attention to grand challenges and emerging or hot topics, and attract more papers to WRR that are useful for professors in their teaching.

I also see several opportunities to accelerate science advances by improving the review process. I plan to foster constructive review comments, encourage authors to put adequate time into revising their paper to take full advantage of the constructive criticisms from the reviewers, and shorten the time between submission and decision (I have an Editors’ Vox post coming out on this topic soon).

Over the past 8 years, I had several memorable experiences during my service as associate editor for WRR. In many cases, reviewers bent over backward to provide constructive advice, and authors devoted a considerable amount of time to act on the review comments and transform a mediocre submission to a landmark paper for the discipline. These experiences are very rewarding.

The role of editor in chief provides many opportunities to help the hydrologic science community enhance the quality and impact of published papers. I look forward to using the current WRR structure, which includes special sections, commentaries, editorials, highlights, and awards, to help foster discussion, encourage debate, synthesize research, and demonstrate the impact of our science to address societal problems. I also look forward to increasing the impact of WRR articles by selecting more articles for inclusion in Eos Research Spotlights, which provide plain-language summaries of the science advances published in WRR, and through increasing media attention for WRR papers that are of interest for the public. Increasing this enhanced content will help showcase the relevance of hydrologic science for society. I welcome ideas on ways that WRR can best serve the hydrologic research community and take advantage of new opportunities to have a positive impact on the evolution of hydrologic science.

Eos: What research are you working on right now?

Clark: My current research spans three broad areas: developing approaches to simulate hydrological processes, including understanding intermodel differences; developing methods to improve streamflow forecasts; and understanding space-time variability in climate and hydrology, including understanding the effects of climate change on regional water resources.

In the course of my career, I’ve published on many different research topics, including hillslope hydrology, snow hydrology, land-atmosphere interactions, and statistical hydrology. I’m leading the Computational Hydrology group within the Research Applications Laboratory at NCAR. We have a set of interrelated projects on developing intermediate-complexity methods for downscaling climate models, developing probabilistic approaches to construct gridded meteorological fields, and advancing capabilities for continental-domain hydrologic modeling.

WRR Editorial Team.
The new WRR editorial team includes (left to right) Ximing Cai, Xavier Sanchez-Vila, Ilja van Meerveld, Hari Rajaram, Martyn Clark, Scott Mackay, Jean Bahr, Peter Troch, Terri Hogue, Jessica Lundquist, and Charlie Luce. Credit: Erin Syring.

One recent contribution from our group is a unified approach to process-based hydrologic modeling, the Structure for Unifying Multiple Modeling Alternatives (SUMMA). This approach provides multiple options to simulate a wide range of biophysical and hydrologic processes, from the treetops to the stream. SUMMA is useful to characterize model and parameter uncertainty in hydrologic model simulations and to identify strengths and weaknesses in our existing hydrologic understanding.

We’re now using the SUMMA concepts to unify land modeling activities across NCAR through the development of the Community Terrestrial Modeling System. Also, through applications of information theory, we’re improving our ability to quantify how effectively models use available information and to understand the information flow through models, so that we can provide an estimate of system predictability and identify opportunities for model improvement.

Eos: Where do you see growth or emerging research in hydrology? What do you think are some of the biggest problems that hydrologists need to solve?

Clark: A key growth area for WRR is the integrated and interdisciplinary approach to hydrologic science, where many research groups actively share data and model source code to advance process understanding and improve modeling capabilities.

A key effort is to improve the theoretical underpinnings of hydrologic models. Many groups are now working together to compare results across basins, to forge closer linkages between model algorithms and general process explanations, and to identify and address model weaknesses. There is more focus on advancing integrated process understanding in research watersheds. A key example of this is the efforts of the Critical Zone Observatories, a U.S.-based network of research watersheds established by the National Science Foundation to improve understanding of biophysical and hydrologic processes from the treetops to the stream.

Community-oriented endeavors are also emerging to develop more realistic representations of the interactions between human systems and hydrology systems and to advance hydrologic modeling for domains extending to the scale of continents and the globe. And there are emerging community efforts to advance process-oriented methods for parameter estimation, accomplished by improving the use of data collected on topography, vegetation, soils, and geology in characterizing the storage and transmission of water across the landscape.

Other disciplines also share this collaborative approach to science, which is necessary to address grand research challenges. Taking this integrated and interdisciplinary approach to hydrologic science will be a critical growth area for WRR in the foreseeable future.

—Jamie Liu (email: [email protected]), Marketing Manager, AGU

Citation: Liu, J. (2017), Incoming editor seeks interdisciplinary, collaborative research, Eos, 98, https://doi.org/10.1029/2017EO070687. Published on 03 April 2017.
© 2017. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0