While there’s some disagreement about causation, it would be hard to dispute that weather patterns over the past decade have dealt some harsh and unexpected blows to the continental United States.
Many natural disasters have a water component, and a new facility located at the University of Alabama, the National Water Center, is expected to become an incubator for innovative breakthroughs in water prediction products and services.
Opened in late May, the Water Center will be a hub of integrated water prediction and forecasting for the federal government. Its innovative predictive science and services developed by NOAA and its partners will bolster the nation’s ability to manage threats to its finite water resources and mitigate impacts to communities.
Scientists and forecasters at the 65, 000-square-foot building will collaborate to provide the nation with enhanced water-related products and services. Bringing experts together in this new collaborative center provides an unprecedented opportunity to improve federal coordination in the water sector to address 21st century water resource challenges, such as water security and analysis and prediction of droughts and floods.
“The new National Water Center will help us create a safer, more secure, weather-ready nation, ” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said at the facility’s grand opening. “Measuring, managing and planning for water is complex, and the need for a more integrated approach has never been greater.”
Water remains one of our “most pressing challenges, ” Pritzker said.
“The opening of the National Water Center marks a significant step forward in water resource management and hazard mitigation for the state of Alabama and our nation, ” said Sen. Richard Shelby, whose support was instrumental in securing funding for the center.
A visiting scientist program will promote innovation by offering assignments to applied researchers who will help accelerate advancements that support NOAA’s mission. This mutual sharing of ideas and experience between federal and academic researchers and forecasters is designed to advance the field of water sciences prediction.
This summer, UA will initiate an effort to partner federal agencies with academia to build a new high-resolution, near real-time hydrologic simulation and forecasting model, with the goal of establishing research collaborations that will sustain innovation into the future.
Text by Dave Helms