The American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has developed a water management decision support system

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which researches the oceans and the atmosphere, and its professional partners have developed a comprehensive data collection and prediction model which may bring a breakthrough in the prediction of floods and hence flood defence as well. The special feature of the system is that at the national level, it registers data collected by over 8000 measuring instruments, and produces analysis and hourly forecasts for 2.7 million locations distributed on all the rivers of the United States. That is a tremendous step forward relative to the previous system, which only produced forecasts updated once every several hours, and only for 4000 locations.

As a result of climate change, America has suffered a number of record floods and droughts, and a forecasting and decision support system of that level of sophistication would have been a very helpful tool for preparation and defence. The newly introduced National Water Forecast Model will allow not only flood protection specialists but also those working in agriculture, shipping, disaster management and the engineers operating water reservoirs to gain more accurate and frequent water data.

Flood in Louisiana (Source: hirado.hu/EPA)

Thomas Graziano, director of NOAA’s new Office of Water Prediction, has emphasised that thanks to the model, the number of locations for which they are able to offer forecasts has been multiplied seven hundred times. In addition to water levels, they can also provide data about groundwater, river flow velocities and the passage of floods. The model was created as a cooperative effort, with leading professional workshops and research centres in the field of hydrology participating at the federal level.

Further development will enable the model to generate street-level forecasts and flooding maps, which will facilitate even more efficient flood defence, and water quality data will also be made available in the future. Thanks to the successful cooperation, the NOAA have made plans to implement further research and development project in order to support the accurate and thorough study of the natural and environmental phenomena caused by climate change.

The press release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is available here.

NOAA website: http://www.noaa.gov/