Carlos Henrique Ribeiro Lima, PhD ’09 EEE


Water is a give-and-take fact of life in Northeast Brazil, where natural disasters caused by deadly floods and droughts have become an annual ritual.

Carlos Henrique Ribeiro Lima, PhD ’09 Earth and Environmental Engineering, is working to address this and other water challenges by developing mathematical and statistical models to improve water resource management in the country.

“In a context of global climate changes and increasing water demand,” Lima says, “it is imperative to maximize the water use efficiency, minimize water losses and increase the water availability, especially in vulnerable regions.”
As a Fullbright Scholar and post doctoral research fellow, Lima, 31, is working this year with the Columbia Water Center in a Pepsico Foundation-funded project titled Improving Rural Water & Livelihood Outcomes in India, China, Africa & Brazil. While in Brazil, he is focusing on several key tasks:
  • testing a multi-reservoir water allocation model that considers not only physical aspects but also economic and social factors
  • developing a multi-site forecast model for the rainy season
  • analyzing floods across Brazil considering the climate influence and developing a flood prediction model
“Floods are the major natural disaster in Brazil and in the last few years have caused enormous economic and material damages as well as life losses,” Lima says. “Predicting the next year’s flooding is very important for flood risk analysis and management and for the civil defense, in order to anticipate preventive actions to safeguard the population in flood-prone areas.”
Lima’s interest in Brazil runs deep. He is a native of the country and earned his MS in Civil Engineering at the Federal University of Ceara in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2004.
Lima was lured to Columbia by the attraction of both the program and the city.
“The Ph.D. program in Water Resources is unique … in the sense that it brings a new perspective and interdisciplinary view on water resources research,” he says.
His thesis advisor was Upmanu Lall, the Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering (Henry Krumb School of Mines) and Civil Engineering.
“Carlos has made significant contributions in developing methods that are reliable and usable for the seasonal to inter-annual prediction of specific attributes or statistics of river flow and rainfall that energy and agricultural systems are most sensitive to,” Lall says. “While his applications are to Brazil, these methods will be very valuable worldwide and we are excited to see other applications and extensions being developed.”

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