New cooperative to support water management in North America

CIROH to develop next-generation water prediction capabilities

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded $360 million to the University of Alabama to lead a new national water effort. The Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH) will develop national hydrological analyses, forecasts, and data guidance to support water resources decisions.

The operationalization of water research is expected to improve present abilities to predict water-related hazards such as flooding and effectively manage water resources.

Revolutionary modelling capabilities are anticipated to optimize water supply and irrigation, hydro power operations, reservoir management, and recreation.

Headquartered at the university’s Alabama Water Institute, CIROH will work closely with two federal organizations already located on campus -- NOAA’s National Water Center and the recently announced U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF) — facilitating more highly productive collaboration.

In addition to federal agency scientists, CIROH consists of a consortium of 28 academic institutions, non-profit organizations, government and industry partners bringing together a powerful team of hydrologic researchers across North America. Canadian hydrologists from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and University of Calgary (UCalgary) will fortify the collective understanding and simulation of hydrological processes across the continent’s varied hydroclimatic regimes.

“This collaboration will focus on the intersection between hydrological science, computer science, and decision science, building a collaborative modelling ecosystem that will likely become the new standard for hydrological prediction and informing decisions globally,” said Dr. Martyn Clark, the team lead for USask.

CIROH advances NOAA’s vision of a water- and weather-ready nation in four broad research themes:

  • Water resources prediction capabilities
  • Community water resources modeling
  • Hydroinformatics
  • Application of social, economic and behavioral science to water resources prediction

The consortium will also create curriculum programs to prepare the next generation of water professionals. Local-to-national scale workforce training programs will translate CIROH advancement into practice. Extensive outreach and engagement will connect CIROH to stakeholders helping communities build resilience to water-related risks.

“Research innovations delivered by (CIROH) will improve forecasts of floods and droughts, increase efficiency of water resources management, protect water quality, and empower stakeholders to make confident and timely decisions (that help communities protect lives and livelihoods),” remarked Dr. Steven J. Burian, CIROH’s Executive Director.