Two UAH Research Centers Play Role in New $360 Million National Water Alliance

Two research centers at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) will lend their expertise to a newly formed $360 million university alliance led by the University of Alabama (UA) to better predict risk related to water and managing the country’s water resources.

UAH, part of the University of Alabama system, is a member and collaborator of the new Cooperative Institute for Research and Operations in Hydrology (CIROH). CIROH is made up of 28 academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government and industry partners across the United States and Canada. It is funded for five years by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will be administered by the Alabama Water Institute.

UAH’s Information Systems and Technology Center (ITSC) will provide advanced data services and analytics, hydrological modeling and forecasting, and the Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center (RSESC) will provide unmanned aircraft systems and technical capabilities to the CIROH effort.

“The UAH is proud to bring its critical informatics and technical expertise to CIROH to better understand our nation’s water supply,” said UAH Acting President Dr. Chuck Karr.

“As a member institution of CIROH, UAH will apply these core competencies of our university to conduct new research and technology development for the future management of water resources with a focus on improving the model national water and flood forecasting capabilities,” he said.

CIROH will provide UAH with educational opportunities for students as well as teaching and research opportunities for faculty and researchers, Dr. Karr said.

“Additionally, deeper engagement with the Tuscaloosa campus and the Alabama Water Institute team will provide more collaborative efforts within the University of Alabama system,” he said. .

Dr. Sara Graves, ITSC Director, and Casey Calamaio, RSESC Research Engineer, will serve as UAH Project Leaders for CIROH projects initiated at their respective centers. The proposed ITSC and RSESC programs with CIROH will focus on water and land surface elevation monitoring and decision support tools for flood forecasting.

The ITSC has been in contact with the Alabama Water Institute since its inception. ITSC ​​will bring its expertise in advanced visualization of different types of data, user-friendly applications, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“We will provide support and expertise in managing large data sets and methods on how to analyze and visualize the results,” says Dr Graves.

The ITSC will support the development of AI-enhanced space-based precipitation observations in the National Water Model.

“ITSC has been a leader in innovative approaches to data analysis, modeling and application services for over 25 years in the civil and defense sectors, integrating remote sensing, in situ and many other types of data “, says Dr. Graves.

The RSESC will provide CIROH with unmanned aircraft systems, geospatial applications and community expertise in emergency response, according to Calamaio.

“We provide sensor development for multi-level remote sensing capabilities to support the integration of satellite, airborne and in-situ ground observations into the national water model,” Calamaio said.

RSESC will also focus on community resilience efforts during water-related disasters.

“The RSESC Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) research program collectively has decades of experience in disaster response and emergency services, as well as ongoing work with the Federal Aviation Administration UAS Systems Safety Alliance through research excellence, supporting the use of unmanned systems in disasters. says Jerry Hendrix, director of UAS research programs at RSESC.

“We aim to further connect community emergency service organizations through crowdsourcing projects and applications, such as Community Emergency Response Teams and Civil Air Patrol,” Hendrix said.

The CIROH Consortium will develop and deliver national hydrological analyses, forecasting information, data, advice and equitable decision support services to inform critical emergency and water resources management decisions. CIROH will advance water research in support of NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction and strengthen the work of the National Weather Service and NOAA’s National Water Center through collaboration within the scientific community. The institute will support four main themes:

  • Water resources forecasting capabilities;
  • Modeling of community water resources;
  • Hydroinformatics;
  • Application of social, economic and behavioral sciences to the forecasting of water resources.

In addition to UAH and UA, CIROH consortium members include Brigham Young University; Colorado School of Mines; Tuskegee University; University of Arizona; University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of Hawai’i at Mānoa; University of Iowa; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; The University of Saskatchewan; University of Utah; University of Vermont; and Utah State University.

Consortium partners include Baron Services Inc.; Coastal Carolina University; Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrological Sciences Inc.; Dauphin Island Marine Laboratory; Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System; Jupiterian Intelligence; New Mexico State University; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Pennsylvania State University; RTI International; Stevens Institute of Technology; University of California, Davis; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and the University of South Carolina.

(Courtesy of UAH)