National Water Model Assessment for Reclamation's Water Management Needs

Project ID: 1774
Principal Investigator: Kenneth Nowak
Research Topic: Water Resource Data Analysis
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017, 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

How do National Water Model (NWM) forecasts over a variety of forecast lead times provide added value, in terms of skill and resolution, to Reclamation water managers above and beyond current available products issued by NOAA and other agencies (e.g., NRCS)? In July 2016, NOAA's NWM will begin initial operational forecasts extending from hourly to 30-days over the U.S. The model will provide streamflow and other hydrologic information on 1km and 250m grids. NWM will eventually produce forecasts at longer lead times. Using an R&D version of the model at PSD will provide a unique opportunity for Reclamation to assess the NWM and help improve products and services to better meet Reclamation's needs. Our hypothesis is that the NWM forecasts, even if plagued by large bias, will provide useful information to water managers in terms of watershed characteristics (e.g. evapotranspiration) in areas that traditionally have not had any forecast information.

Need and Benefit

Need: Reclamation depends on streamflow forecasts across the temporal continuum of water management. As part of the recently launched NOAA National Water Initiative, the NWM is being adopted. In the interest of being an informed user and exploring new potential water management utility of the NWM, Reclamation seeks to seize the opportunity to partner with NOAA at the outset of this new modeling framework. Understanding the NWM will be important for Reclamation as NOAA begins to use its output in forecasts.
Benefit: The NWM is being launched in 2016. It is expected that RFCs will eventually incorporate the NWM into their forecasting work flow. As such, Reclamation has a unique opportunity to be actively involved with research related to evaluation and exploration during this early stage of the NWM and shape future products and services.
Urgency: As the NWM will begin issuing initial forecasts in July 2016, there is a window of opportunity for Reclamation to tailor NWM information to the benefit of the water management community. A delay or postponement of funding l would significantly reduce the impact of this work.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20