Marisa Escobar

Senior Scientist


Davis, CA
marisa.escobar@sei-us.org
skype: marisa.escobar
+1 (530) 753-3035 x2#

Marisa's work focuses on creating linkages between physical processes and socio-ecological systems. She uses her expertise on water, including water quality, the physics of water, and the movement of water through watersheds, to produce information on the implications of decisions about water on the overall ecosystem. Her geographic focus is California (where she resides) and Latin America (where she is from). Exploring the linkages between water and the socio-ecological system in Latin America has resulted on the investigation of the energy-water-food nexus and of the role of hydropower in sustainable development.

Since joining SEI's U.S. Centre in California in 2007, Marisa has used SEI's Water Evaluation and Planning System (WEAP) as a primary tool for her analyses. In a major project funded by a STAR Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she has linked WEAP to ecosystem assessment tools to study anadromous fish management in California rivers, focusing on analyzing the tradeoffs between power production and other water management objectives.

Marisa also works to advance the use of WEAP in Latin America and to support a rapidly growing WEAP user community in the region. For example, as part of a World Bank-supported investigation of potential climate change impacts on water resources management in Peru, she developed a glacier accumulation and ablation routine and integrated it with WEAP rainfall-runoff modeling algorithms.

Also in Latin America, Marisa is using WEAP as an analytical tool to support negotiations around the definition of water benefit-sharing mechanisms in Andean Rivers, under funding from the global CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food.

Marisa has a B.S. in civil engineering from Javeriana University, in Bogotá, Colombia; an M.S. in civil and environmental engineering from Los Andes University, also in Bogotá; an M.Eng. in the same field from the University of California, Berkeley; and a Ph.D. in hydrologic sciences from the University of California, Davis.


Recent Publications by Marisa Escobar

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How governance affects participation: Insights from water resources planning projects in Colombia and Peru

SEI Discussion Brief

Author(s): Bresney, S. ; Escobar, M. ; Moncada Aguirre, A.M.
Year: 2017

Research Area(s): Water Resources

Description:

This brief explores how the design of water resources governance systems in Colombia and Peru affect stakeholder participation, drawing on insights from SEI projects in both countries.


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Exploring scientific information for policy making under deep uncertainty

Environmental Modelling & Software, 86, 232-247

Author(s): Forni, L. ; Galaitsi, S. ; Mehta, V. ; Escobar, M. ; Purkey, D. ; Depsky, N.; Lima, N.A.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Water Resources

Description: This paper describes the use of a Decision Space Visualization (DSV) that condenses model results to tackle complex water management challenges. It presents tools for discussing scientific results to decision-makers in two case studies, La Paz/El Alto, Bolivia, and Yuba County, California. Visualization output from the case studies combines spatiotemporal, multivariate and multirun/multiscenario information to produce information corresponding to the objectives and uncertainties described by key actors. These tools can manage complex data and distill scientific information into accessible formats.
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Building hydroliteracy among stakeholders for effective water benefit sharing in the Andes

Water International, online 9 May 2016

Author(s): Escobar, M. ; Carvajal, B.-S.; Rubiano, J.; Mulligan, M.; Candelo, C.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Water Resources

Description:

This article integrates social and biophysical analysis to identify water-sharing opportunities in three basins across the northern Andes: the Rio Santa in Peru; the system of source watersheds for the cities of La Paz–El Alto in Bolivia; and the Coello-Combeima watershed in Colombia. The work included building knowledge of hydrology (hydroliteracy) among stakeholders to enable them to develop more technically sophisticated analyses of alternative management strategies for their respective basins. Empowered with new technical skills and knowledge of their watersheds, stakeholders were able to achieve outcomes that will benefit all.


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Ríos del Páramo al Valle, por Urbes y Campiñas: Building climate adaptation capacity in water resources planning

SEI and USAID final project report

Author(s): Escobar, M. ; Purkey, D.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Water Resources

Description: This report synthesizes lessons from a three-year project to build capacity and develop tools to support climate change adaptation in Colombian watersheds. The Ríos del Páramo al Valle project operated from 2012 to 2015, applying a participatory planning process developed by SEI called robust decision support (RDS). The project integrated contributions from academic institutions and Corporaciones Autónomas Regionales (CARs), the regional water governance agencies. The goal was to help create regional and national leaders with long-term capacity to manage and plan the development of watersheds while integrating climate considerations.
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Ríos del Páramo al Valle, por Urbes y Campiñas: Creando capacidad de adaptación en la planeación de recursos hídricos

SEI and USAID final project report

Author(s): Escobar, M. ; Purkey, D.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Water Resources

Description: Este informe sintetiza las lecciones de un proyecto de tres años para fomentar la capacidad y desarrollar herramientas para apoyar la adaptación al cambio climático en las cuencas de Colombia. El proyecto Ríos del Páramo al Valle, que operó del 2012 al 2015, aplicó métodos de planificación participativas desarrolladas por SEI, incluyendo la metodología de Apoyo a Decisiones Robustas (ADR), para apoyar a las autoridades ambientales en Colombia a planificar sus cuencas. En particular, se trabajó en el fortalecimiento de capacidades y en el desarrollo de herramientas para la planificación de los recursos hídricos. Este proceso contó con la participación activa de instituciones académicas y de las Corporaciones Autónomas Regionales (CAR). Esto ayudó a formar líderes regionales y nacionales con capacidad para realizar una adecuada planificación de los recursos hídricos que incluyó el componente de cambio climático.
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