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Aquifers - and Scientists - Without Borders: A European Union Science Cafe

The European Union Science Café series is a production of the French and British Consulates General in Atlanta with the assistance of the Atlanta Science Tavern. It is graciously hosted by the Alliance Française d'Atlanta and the Goethe Zentrum (German Cultural Center) in Atlanta.

This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30. Light snacks and refreshments will be served.

Parking is available in the Colony Square Parking deck, accessible from 14th and 15th Streets. Complimentary 4-hour parking after 5pm is offered with your validated parking ticket. The Arts Center MARTA Station is nearby. A bike rack is located at the north end of the Colony Square plaza.


Aquifers - and Scientists - Without Borders: A European Union Science Cafe
Gerhard Schäfer, Professor of Hydrology and Geochemistry
University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg

Our speaker will be joining us via Skype.

Boundaries between nations serve to delimit human political activity. But boundaries also exist in the natural world. These limit, for example, the flow of water and pollutants or the spread of insects and pollen and plants. It is rare that these two kinds of boundaries coincide.

In particular, groundwaters move slowly and invisibly in aquifers below the Earth's surface. Ignoring political borders, they can carry pollutants from one country to its neighbors. Pumping on one side of a line on a map can deplete water reserves available on the other.

Appropriately enough, boundaries between disciplines - including fluid mechanics, physics, and chemistry - have to be crossed to develop a better understanding of the flow of water underground. Likewise, political boundaries have to be bridged so that countries can work together to formulate local and regional policies to better manage these common resources.

In the Upper Rhine area (Switzerland, Germany and France) a consortium has been built to do just this. They are charged with studying watershed dynamics of the region within a common framework while reinforcing exchanges between researchers and benefiting stakeholders involved by promoting cross-border perspectives. The working base task-force of this enterprise relies on a team of researchers and students of these three countries. This creates a “research territory” which is a map of the studied natural system, rendering the usual political frontiers entirely transparent.

About our speaker

Gerhard Schäfer is Professor at the University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg and is responsible for the team of ‘elementary processes and modeling’ of the Hydrology and Geochemistry laboratory of Strasbourg (LHyGeS). He is also responsible for the development of transfrontier research within the REALISE network, and one of the founding members of the Eucor network for environmental sciences.

Since 2004 Professor Schäfer has taught fluid mechanics and transfers in continental hydrosystems at University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg, where he arrived as a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in 1990. From 2002 to 2008 he led the French branch of the Franco-German Research Institute on the Environment (IFARE) in Strasbourg. Gerhard received his PhD from the University of Stuttgart for studying the influence of layered structures and local heterogeneities on longitudinal dispersion in porous aquifers.

Image top right: a shaded-relief digital elevation map of the Upper Rhine Graben based on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (courtesy of the Eucor Urgent Project).

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  • Cecile L.

    Oops, I lost track of this one. I won't make it there today.

    May 7, 2013

  • Laurey

    Really looking forward to this.

    May 6, 2013

  • Audrey G.

    I'm interested in exploring how the collaboration he's studied in Europe can apply both to the Middle East, specifically Israel/Jordan/Palestine, as well as to trans-boundary water issues domestically. A heads up to this group: Dr. Clive Lipchin, a cross-boundary water expert based at the Arava Institute in Israel, will be in Atlanta in October. Will keep Marc posted!

    1 · May 4, 2013

  • Michelle

    Jimmy Mc......thought you might find this interesting.....

    April 23, 2013

  • joan

    I wish I could!! Traveling for work. Looks like a great one as always Marc!

    April 20, 2013

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