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The new National Water Center building on the University of Alabama campus. Image credit: NOAA


On May 26, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the National Water Center, a new facility located at the University of Alabama. The center is poised to become an incubator for innovative breakthroughs in water prediction products and services. As the country becomes more vulnerable to water-related events — from drought to flooding — the innovative predictive science and services developed by NOAA and its partners at the National Water Center will bolster the nation’s ability to manage threats to its finite water resources and mitigate effects to communities.

The center will be a hub of integrated water prediction and forecasting for the federal government. Scientists and forecasters will collaborate to provide the nation with enhanced water-related products and services to support water management decisions across the country. Bringing experts together in this new collaborative center provides an unprecedented opportunity to improve federal coordination in the water sector to address 21st century water resource challenges, such as water security, and analysis and prediction of hydrologic extremes, like droughts and floods.

Additionally, a visiting scientist program will promote innovation by offering assignments to applied researchers. This mutual sharing of ideas and experience between federal and academic researchers and forecasters will advance the field of water sciences prediction and help create a Weather-Ready Nation, one that is capable of anticipating and responding to extreme water events.

The University of Alabama boasts a robust research program focused on the protection and restoration of the nation’s water supply and natural environment. This summer, the university will initiate an effort to partner federal agencies with academia to build a new high-resolution, near-real-time, hydrologic simulation and forecasting model.