Linking weather and water models for better prediction of floods and water supply

WRF-Hydro Flood Forecasting: Spring runoff on Boulder CreekPrint-friendly PDF

Spring 2013

I. Description

Flood forecasts depend on our knowledge of the state of:

atmospheric features that trigger heavy rain

surface and subsurface water, including the heights of rivers and reservoirs and the amount of soil saturation.

Although both meteorological and hydrological models have improved in detail and accuracy over recent years, they can be difficult to operate in a simultaneous and integrated (i.e., coupled) fashion.

The hydrological extension of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF-Hydro) is a new community-based framework designed to link models of the atmosphere and terrestrial hydrology. The goal is to improve the skill of hydrometeorological forecasts, including flood stages and other critical information for society. The system provides the capability to perform coupled and uncoupled simulations of water cycle processes and their impacts on a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.

II. Stage of Research

Version 1.0 of the WRF-Hydro system was released in April 2013. It includes an initial suite of hydrological model components, with the intent of integrating more components as the system evolves.

WRF-Hydro development is guided in a community-based manner, with open and participatory working groups. NCAR is now collaborating with other federal and university entities and with the National Science Foundation on a support structure for WRF-Hydro that will include model documentation; public, online code repositories and utilities; and a library of user cases.

III. Advantages

  • Seamless end-to-end data assimilation and hydrologic prediction
  • Compatible with high-performance computing
  • Data formats based on accepted standards
  • Modular, extensible software for hydrologic physics

IV. Applications

  • Integrated flood and flash flood modeling
  • Seasonal hydrologic forecasting
  • Studies of land-atmosphere interactions
  • Assessment of regional climate impacts

V. Funding and IP Status

Primary: NSF, NASA, NOAA, DOE, international sponsors
Now seeking additional funding to expand collaboration with federal, state, and university partners and to support the fast-growing WRF-Hydro user base.

VI. Research Partners

Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory
NOAA Office of Hydrology
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
U.S. and foreign universities

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Development Contacts

Scott Rayder - Senior Advisor
+1 303.497.1673

Ari Gerstman - Washington Operations
+1 202.787.1624

Rachel Hauser - Businesses & Foundations
+1 303.497.1117

Gloria Kelly - Administrative Support
+1 303.497.2102