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UW’s Ogden Honored with ASCE’s Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering Award

January 13, 2015
man with laptop computer sitting on the bank of a rushing stream
Fred Ogden, a UW professor of engineering, has been selected to receive the 2015 Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering Award from the Environmental and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. (UW Photo)

Fred Ogden, a University of Wyoming professor of engineering, has been selected to receive the 2015 Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering Award from the Environmental and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The award recognizes Ogden’s contributions to surface water hydrology through theoretical development, models and innovative applications.

“Together with my students, I've been developing hydrological models and algorithms for my entire career,” says Ogden, who is currently in Panama conducting hydrological research. “I think that this recognition actually reflects on the excellent group of students, collaborators, advisers and mentors that I've worked with over the years.”

The award letter to Ogden states, “In selecting you for this award, the committee particularly noted your work on the CASC2D model.”

CASC2D or “cascade of planes in two dimensions” is the model Ogden worked on during his dissertation research at Colorado State University between 1990 and 1992. 

“It was the first model that I helped to develop, and it morphed into GSSHA (Gridded Surface/Subsurface Hydrological Analysis model) as my students and I added groundwater and other features,” Ogden says. “It also serves as a guide for the development of ADHydro (Adaptive mesh hydrology model) that we are developing to simulate the upper Colorado River basin on the NCAR-Wyoming supercomputer.”

The ASCE award, which includes a plaque and cash, will be presented to Ogden during the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress in Austin, Texas, May 17-21.

Ogden is the Cline Distinguished Chair of Engineering in UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, and Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. He is a registered professional engineer and hydrologist, and a senior research associate with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama City, Panama.

His research interests include runoff generation in tropics, arid and semi-arid regions; hydrologic modeling and engineering; watershed scale erosion/deposition modeling; hydrological applications of GIS and remote sensing of rainfall; computational hydraulics; and physical hydraulic modeling.

Last August, Ogden was tabbed to head a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant worth $2.89 million to study water sustainability, land-use management and climate in the Panama Canal watershed.

Land uses include agricultural, mature forest, pastureland, reforestation with native tree species or teak (tropical hardwoods), and deforestation. The project, titled “Planning and Land Management in a Tropical Ecosystem: Complexities of Land Use and Hydrology Coupling in a Panama Canal Watershed,” uses a rainfall simulator to examine flow paths and runoff generation mechanisms.

For example, Ogden and his team applied 60 centimeters of rain over three hours using a rainfall simulator in a forest with no surface runoff.  All of the water infiltrated into the soil. In other tests, in a pasture, surface runoff was produced when the applied rain rate was about 10 centimeters per hour.

In another project, Ogden and his team, for the past few years, have been working to create a computational model of the hydrology of the upper Colorado River Basin -- roughly 112,000 square miles from Wyoming and Colorado down to Lake Powell. The Green River, the biggest tributary of the Colorado River, was the first area that was modeled, Ogden says.

Water levels in the Colorado River Basin are dependent on a number of factors, including winter snowmelt and how much communities -- from near and far -- use from this crucial water source. Determining just how much water is available will allow municipalities to make educated decisions about the long-term sustainability of water for their communities based on such factors as climate change, irrigation needs, natural and man-made land use changes, and population shifts.

Ogden received his doctorate, master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, all from CSU.

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