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Alabama Water Institute

Alabama Water Institute, CIROH Researchers Earn Pilot Project Seed Funding

River Delta
Credit: Anakin Fox, Getty Images via Canva

A cloud-based hydrologic model evaluation software pilot project from the Alabama Water Institute has earned seed funding from the Earth Science Information Partners Lab.

Drs. Md. Shahabul Alam and Ryan Johnson from the AWI and Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology and Dr. Dane Lijestrand from the University of Utah were awarded $20,000 to operationalize the Community Streamflow Evaluation System, or CSES.

The team hopes to align the CSES with the U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Mission Area and make it a model-agnostic evaluation system for the hydrological model that the public can access and use.

“Advancing streamflow prediction capabilities of hydrological models is one of the key research and operational priorities of NOAA and USGS, with the motivation to support water resources management and emergency response with representative estimates of streamflow,” said Alam, the project’s principal investigator.

The CSES will allow CIROH partners to assess the performance of and investigate how changes and modifications to hydrological model formulations improve the National Water Model. More specifically, it will allow them to improve modeling formulations to regionally dominant hydrology, such as snow dominated and groundwater influx.

A standardized framework is needed to evaluate model performance in order to improve its streamflow prediction capabilities. However, there are limited options for a model-agnostic evaluation system that supports streamflow analysis at multiple timescales, spatial resolutions and evaluation interests, such as peak flows for floods and long-term volume for water supply management. This consistent need prompted the development of and the funding request for the CSES.

“Having this project recognized by ESIP means a lot to us as researchers,” said Johnson, AWI’s artificial intelligence research scientist. “It means our ideas are valuable for the research community and there is a space for us to contribute more to science and community.”

With the seed funding, the CSES project is quickly moving onto the next phase. In May, the team participated in the CIROH Developers Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, to work on how to adapt the CSES into the Basic Model Interface protocol for seamless use across developers and platforms.

“This project shows how we can leverage the resources available through CIROH to advance research that benefits the community immensely,” said Alam. “It is also an example of a successful collaboration between the CIROH member institutes and the greater Earth Sciences community.”

Information from the ESIP article was used in this feature.