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Claire Baffaut

Research Hydrologist

Claire Baffaut

Dr. Baffaut’s career started with an engineering background with a BS in Hydraulics Engineering and Water Resources from the School of Hydraulics in Grenoble, France (1984), followed by a PhD at Purdue University (1985-1988).  There, she had the opportunity to develop an expert system to calibrate the Storm Water Management Model using flow and water quality data.

After working a few years as a consulting engineer in France (1989-1992), Dr. Baffaut came back to Purdue University at the ARS National Soil Erosion Laboratory to participate in the development and evaluation of the Water Erosion Prediction Model (WEPP, 1993-1996).  The number of scientists and disciplines involved with the development of this model broadened her agronomic and soil science knowledge. 

Along the years, Dr. Baffaut continued to broaden the framework of her interests. Her work at the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI, 1999-2007) as the leader for watershed studies continued to expand her collaborations to find solutions to the environmental issues facing agriculture. The interdisciplinary team included economists, bacteriologists, soil scientists, and limnologists to address the joint objectives of environmental enhancement and economic sustainability. Since 2007, Dr. Baffaut’s work at ARS has focused on field and watershed-scale studies to evaluate practices that protect water resources and maintain agricultural production. It involves both monitoring and model simulations. Her interests focus on the interactions between hydrologic and production outcomes, climate change, spatial targeting of practice implementation, and scaling field experimental results to larger scales.


My research
My research focuses on assessing the effects of agricultural practices on water quantity and water quality at field and watershed scale. Specifically, it includes:

Why I’m doing this research
Producing food while also protecting soils and water is essential for future generations and the continuation of our
civilization. The research I conduct helps gain understanding on how grain crop production interacts with the water cycle and water resources, including the effect of crop production on water resources, and how we can make the most of our available water under current and future climatic conditions.

How my research is conducted
My research includes monitoring of flow, soil moisture, and water quality, and modeling of plant growth and hydrologic processes. It also relies on data collected by other scientists in this unit: crop yields; plant growth characterization; and soil physical, chemical, and biological property assessment. While neither data nor modeling alone can provide results that are convincing, the concordance of the findings via monitoring and modeling is powerful.

Notable findings

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