Bristol Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor Saman Razavi, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

BBMDVPBuilding Resilience in Complex Water-Human Systems

Anticipated visit dates: 1 April - 1 June 2021


Dr. Razavi is an Associate Professor of hydrology and water resources engineering at the Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan and a licensed professional engineer with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan. His research work is at the science-policy interface, bridging hydrological modelling and prediction of flood and drought to integrated management of water resources and decision and policy making. Dr. Razavi is also an expert in systems and data sciences, sensitivity and uncertainty analysis, and machine learning.

 Dr. Razavi has published 40+ peer-reviewed journal papers, two peer-reviewed commentaries, and one book chapter (link to Google Scholar). Most of his papers have appeared in top leading journals such as Water Resources Research. He has (co-)authored 110+ presentations at national and international conferences and has delivered 10+ invited talks. In recognition of his work, Dr. Razavi has received several awards including the highly prestigious 2019 Young Scientist Award from Canadian Geophysical Union, Water Security Research Excellence Award from the University of Saskatchewan, and the Editors' Choice Award from Water Resources Research.

 Dr. Razavi is the Principal Investigator of a major transdisciplinary research program, titled “Integrated Modelling Program for Canada (IMPC)” that brings together 15 faculty members from five universities and many collaborators from governments, boundary organizations, and the private sector ( His several other projects include funded-collaborations with India (IIT, Delhi and IISc, Bangalore) and Iran (Gorgan U). He is the lead developer of a suite of approaches and tools for sensitivity and uncertainty analysis under the framework of Variogram Analysis of Response Surfaces (

 Dr. Razavi’s service to the scientific community includes acting as an Associate Editor for Journal of Hydrology, an Editorial Board Member for Environmental Modelling & Software, the Chair of the American Geophysical Union’s Committee on Hydrologic Uncertainty (, and a Scientific Committee Member of the SAMO (Sensitivity Analysis of Model Output) community (personal page:


Water resources systems are in the throes of unprecedented transformations from the compounding effects of non-stationarity and changes in climate, hydrology, and human behaviours. Our ability to predict the future functioning of such systems, however, is limited as past research activities have typically been built on a disciplinary and reductionist approach, which has resulted in the failure of current-generation models to link important features of climate, hydrology, ecosystem, and society. Complex interactions in coupled human-natural systems are manifest in interdependencies and feedbacks, non-linear dynamics and thresholds, hysteresis, time lags and legacies, and unintended consequences. Such interactions and dynamics have the capacity to erode the resilience of these systems and push them towards tipping points—points of no return when the system regime shifts to a new equilibrium or a less desirable state. Interdisciplinary, holistic research that characterizes resilience and potential tipping points in complex human-water systems is embryonic and urgently needed.

 This collaborative project will explore alternative frameworks for integrated modelling and assessment that diagnoses, simulates, and predicts interactions and feedback loops among hydrological, ecological, and societal aspects of complex watershed systems. This research will particularly utilize the recent advances in data science and artificial intelligence to analyze big data sources (in-situ and remotely-sensed) that are becoming increasingly available. Understanding the relationships and integrated modelling of both naturally-varying (e.g., precipitation, evapotranspiration, and soil moisture) and human-driven (e.g., diversions, groundwater abstraction, and irrigation) variables across spatio-temporal scales will be a focal point. The geographical focus of this research will be select river basins in the United Kingdom and Western Canada with extensive engineered infrastructure and regulation through reservoirs, diversions, and irrigation. The research outcome will be new insights into building integrated modelling and assessment platforms that allow for enhanced resilience and adaptations to future natural hazards such as drought.

Dr Razavi is hosted by Professor Thorsten Wagener, Civil Engineering.

Planned events include:

Public Lecture
Prediction and Management of Change in Water- Human Systems

Departmental Lecture
Elements and Tools for Sensitivity Analysis

Postgraduate Seminar
The unique hydrology of the Canadian prairies