UA Awarded $360 Million to Lead National Water Effort
Posted Apr 6, 2022
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — With transformative support of up to $360 million over the next five years from the federal government, The University of Alabama is poised to become a standard bearer in translating water research into operations that improve the nation’s ability to predict water-related hazards and effectively manage water resources.
The award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the largest external award in the University’s history, will be administered by the Alabama Water Institute and acknowledges UA’s commitment to make water a signature research and academic focus.
The effort establishes the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology, or CIROH. Headquartered at AWI, CIROH consists of a consortium of 28 academic institutions, non-profit organizations and government and industry partners bringing together a powerful team of hydrologic researchers across the United States and Canada. They will develop and deliver national hydrological analyses, forecast information, data, guidance and equitable decision-support services to inform essential emergency management and water resources decisions.
"The research institutes were established on campus to support and expand upon the great work done by our faculty, staff and students in addressing real challenges facing our society," said UA President Stuart R. Bell. "This award will elevate those contributions, bringing innovation to such a critical issue as water quality and availability while enriching the educational experience of our students. The expertise of the Alabama Water Institute is positioned well to answer our nation’s call to improve the lives and livelihood of Americans and our partner nations.”
CIROH will work closely with two federal organizations located on campus — NOAA’s National Water Center and the recently announced U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility — allowing for highly productive collaboration between AWI and other federal agency scientists.
“The University of Alabama is at the forefront of hydrological research,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, vice president for research and economic development. “Tuscaloosa is now a hub of innovation for putting intelligence related to water resources into action. We are grateful for the trust placed upon the University to lead this national center of excellence.”
The consortium led by UA assists NOAA’s vision of a water- and weather-ready nation. CIROH will advance water research in support of NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction and reinforce the work of the National Weather Service and National Water Center through collaboration across the scientific community in four broad research themes:
- Water resources prediction capabilities.
- Community water resources modeling.
- Application of social, economic and behavioral science to water resources prediction.
“I am proud to be spearheading this unprecedented Cooperative Institute, which will not only create a consortium of institutions that will leverage their individual prowess to address today's most pressing water issues but also usher UA forward in its status as an emerging and leading water research institution," said Scott Rayder, AWI executive director.
CIROH will create curriculum programs across its consortium members and partners to prepare the next generation of water professionals. Local-to-national scale workforce training programs will translate CIROH advances into practice. Extensive outreach and engagement will connect CIROH to stakeholders helping communities build resilience to water-related risks.
Dr. Steven J. Burian, AWI director of science and professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, will serve as the executive director of CIROH.
“We now begin the real work of coproducing research with NOAA and other partners that will benefit society and provide learning opportunities for students for years to come,” said Burian. “The research innovations delivered by the Cooperative Institute will improve forecasts of floods and droughts, increase efficiency of water resources management, protect water quality and empower stakeholders to make confident and timely decisions.”
CIROH’s 14 consortium members include: The University of Alabama; Brigham Young University; Colorado School of Mines; Tuskegee University; The University of Alabama in Huntsville; University of Arizona; University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; University of Iowa; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of Saskatchewan; University of Utah; University of Vermont; and Utah State University.
Consortium partners include: Baron Weather Inc.; Coastal Carolina University; Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrological Science Inc.; Dauphin Island Sea Lab; Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System; Jupiter Intelligence; New Mexico State University; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; The Pennsylvania State University; RTI International; Stevens Institute of Technology; University of California, Davis; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and University of South Carolina.