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Flood Forecasting Gets Major ­pgrade

By National Science Foundation

August 29, 2016

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Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created the National Water Model, which provides forecast information, data, decision-support services, and guidance to essential emergency services staff and water management personnel.

The National Water Model combines geographic-information system (GIS) data with real-time weather forecasts, and uses sensor data from more than 8,000 U.S. Geological Survey gauges and other sources of information to predict where dangerous flood situations will arise at all 2.7 million reaches in the U.S.

However, this process requires powerful computers and software that can stitch diverse pieces of information together and produce flow forecasts that can be quickly updated. The researchers used the Texas Advanced Computing Center's Stampede and Lonestar supercomputers to manage the massive surge of data and to perform the necessary calculations to forecast events across the U.S.

As part of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded National Flood Interoperability Experiment, the researchers demonstrated the feasibility of simultaneously calculating the river flow for all 2.7 million stream reaches.

"This project is a great example of how integrated cyberinfrastructure--hardware, software, data, networks, and people--can be used to solve some of the world's most challenging problems and to positively impact people's lives," says former NSF program director Daniel Katz.

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