Following the disastrous flooding in the Gulf Coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced a new forecasting tool that may pave the way for, according to NOAA, “the biggest improvement on flood forecasting the country has ever seen.”
The National Water Model uses powerful Cray supercomputers to simulate the water cycle with mathematical representations of different physical processes, such as snowmelt and water movement through soil layers. The result: a massive expansion of NOAA’s water flow forecasts – from about 4,000 river locations up to 2.7 million stream locations nationwide.
The model generates hourly forecasts for the entire river network, offering more accurate, frequent and detailed water information to emergency managers, first responders, farmers, and other stakeholders.
“Flash floods, punishing droughts, rising sea levels and harmful algal outbreaks are just a few of the problems we expect to worsen as the climate changes and high-impact weather events become more frequent, said NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan in a statement. “Strengthening our nation’s water prediction and information services is a critical component for addressing that threat.”