26th Conference on Interactive Information and Processing Systems (IIPS) for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology


NOAA's integrated water forecasting program

Gary Carter, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD; and J. Ingram

Every day, decision makers balance the allocation of fresh water among the often-competing and conflicting requirements for human health, agriculture, hydropower generation, river and lake commerce, recreation, tourism, ecosystem integrity, and the economic vitality of the Nation. Water allocation requirements are further stressed as population growth and economic development increase water resource demands. At the same time, climate change makes the quantity and quality of our water more uncertain.

NOAA's Integrated Water Forecasting Program delivers valuable water information and predictions affecting all hydroclimatic conditions from floods to droughts. The program provides high-resolution analyses of snow pack, and precipitation, and produces water supply estimates, estuary, lake, and river flow forecasts and flood warnings used by decision makers to save lives, protect property, and conserve America's continental water resources. Future advancements will allow NOAA to deliver expanded services to arid and coastal watersheds; integrate hydrologic and climate information for decision making; and enhance the resolution, accuracy, and reliability of our current water information and services. These efforts will support better management of the Nation's water resources from the headwaters of the watersheds to estuaries and the open sea.

NOAA current water science and services include observations, data assimilation, research, river and water supply forecasting, inundation mapping, dissemination systems, outreach, and education. The Program leverages science and service partnerships for the atmosphere, watersheds, estuaries, and oceans. In particular:

o NOAA gathers hydrometeorological observations and data benefiting surface water services via satellite-based, airborne and ground instrumentation.

o NOAA experts analyze hydrometeorological data to improve rain and snow forecasts, focusing on high-impact hydrologic events.

o NOAA scientists partner with universities, government agencies, the private sector, and the international community to develop surface-water and ground-water models.

o NOAA's National Centers, Weather Forecast Offices, and River Forecast Centers, located across the country, deliver precipitation, lake level, streamflow, flood, flash-flood, and drought forecasts on a daily basis.

The long-term goals of NOAA's Integrated Water Forecasting Program are:

o Water level information for every community;

- Forecasts including the lakes, coasts, and estuaries

- Lead times from hours to seasons, including estimates of uncertainty

- Consistent product and service delivery

o Forecasts and analyses for the entire watershed;

- Precipitation and snowpack

- River flow, water temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen content

- Soil moisture and temperature, percolation to groundwater / aquifer level

o Improved water forecast accuracy with the quantification of uncertainty;

- Short time frame flash floods, tide / storm surge

- Medium time frame main stem rivers

- Long time frame seasonal outlooks, water supply forecasts.

Comprehensive water information and enhanced services support the widespread use of risk-based decision tools to proactively manage and limit devastating societal impacts of floods and droughts to communities and the ecosystem. Documented studies reveal substantial potential payoffs such as: $12 per year for every $1 invested in river forecast improvements; 20% increase in irrigated corn production for weekly forecasts of soil moisture; and $500 million per year for extended water supply forecasts. Furthermore, this unified approach enables NOAA to successfully partner with federal, state, local, and private water agencies and decision makers.

The presentation will describe the Integrated Water Forecasting Program, and explain how NOAA's efforts are serving as a catalyst for the Federal Government to develop and implement the broad and integrative system to serve as a reliable and authoritative basis for next-generation adaptive water-related planning, preparedness, and response activities from national to local levels.

Recorded presentation

Session 6B, Interactive Processing Systems Part I
Tuesday, 19 January 2010, 1:30 PM-3:00 PM, B218

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