5A.4 National Water Resources Monitoring and Outlook: A New National Scale Product for Timely Water Intelligence

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 4:45 PM
608 (Washington State Convention Center )
Andrea J. Ray, NOAA, Boulder, CO; and M. Stokes, A. Nielson, C. Goodman, R. Hartman, J. A. Intermill III, M. C. Kruk, D. Miskus, and R. Vose
Manuscript (1.1 MB)

Handout (8.1 MB)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) River Forecast Centers (RFCs) have issued operational water supply forecasts and information for decades. The strength of these products is that they are generated from real-time hydrologic modeling systems that incorporate hydrometeorological data and the latest weather and climate forecasts. These water resources products are used every year to inform multi-million dollar water management decisions. However, these products have a variety of graphical and tabular display formats that are generally limited to their forecast basin boundaries and presented in a fragmented and often inconsistent way. With growing demands on water supply, significant impacts of droughts, and growing importance of forecasts in the water management decision-making processes, a consistent centralized location to access all information related to water supply forecasts and information is long overdue. There is a need for a national product for users who are interested in areas crossing RFC boundaries or a very high level view of how water availability varies across the country. The Water Resource Monitor and Outlook (WRMO), whose vision is to provide a comprehensive view of the water resource conditions that will meet local, regional, and national interests, is a new prototype product designed to meet this need for centralized and consistent information across RFC boundaries. The product builds on existing but historically separated capabilities within NOAA, including regional RFC forecasts, weather prediction capabilities, and National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) data and analytical capabilities as well as those of the new National Water Center. An integrated product team drawn from those organizations as well as the NOAA Earth Science Research Lab (ESRL) Physical Sciences Division, has focused on the development of the prototype water resources monitor and outlook application in order to draw from NOAA’s geographic dispersion of products expertise across various organizational components, and to facilitate the rapid development of this application. This team in concert with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) is collaborating to develop a prototype of this service across western RFC domains that can be expanded nationwide. Initial roll-out is anticipated in late-FY’2016, with enhancements planned as funding permits.

This presentation will describe and detail the collaboration efforts in developing a new consistent and centralized Water Resources Monitor and Outlook as a quasi-operational web product. The product includes graphics (maps and plots) which can be generated on the fly, specified through the selection of available user options. A challenge has been to build a system that takes in and stores large datasets on a daily basis from RFCs and allows statistical analysis and generation of products on demand by interface users. This information, presented via a consistent interface and formats across western RFC domains, includes:

  • improved information, products, services, and tools that enable water resources managers to better manage the resource, improve planning, and help develop more prepared and resilient communities

  • products generated from real-time hydrologic modeling systems that incorporate hydrometeorological data and short, medium, and long-range weather and climate forecasts

  • ensemble forecasts, data analysis for both observed and forecast data, and verification tools for a wide range of time periods relevant to water management

  • information and data to contextualize the existing products

  • links to integrate the product with other relevant information portals, e.g. the NIDIS Drought Portal

This presentation will also describe the next steps for the project, including stakeholder engagement and development of subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) outlooks for water resource managers. During FY17, stakeholder engagement guided by a social scientist on the team will introduce the WRMO and products to stakeholders involved in the the NIDIS California-Nevada and Colorado River Basin Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS), and test and refine designs for tools. We will evaluate success by tracking and documenting the use, non-use, and intended use of the products in policy planning exercises—such as the development of risk scenarios—and integration of this information into long term planning and management decisions. This information on evaluation and feedback will be used to refine the products. Finally the team will begin the development of an S2S outlook product for water managers, with the goal to provide predictions of cool season accumulated precipitation in the key regional watersheds important for water resources. While this product will be based on existing CPC products, we anticipate that it will be a multi-year applied research and development effort.

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