UWs Ogden Named Senior Scientist to National Water Center

group of people working with hoses and pipes outside
Fred Ogden, a UW professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, instructs Ph.D. students from around the country how to set up and operate a rainfall simulator system at the National Water Center recently. During the 2017-18 year, Ogden will serve as senior scientist at the National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Fred Ogden Photo)

Two years ago, Fred Ogden took a sabbatical to conduct hydrology research at the National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He received research and development funding in exchange for the center harnessing the University of Wyoming researcher’s water management model.

For the 2017-18 academic year, Ogden will again work at the center, with the title of senior scientist. Ogden, a professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, will be on unpaid leave from UW.

“I will advise and guide them on water model research development, training and education. They (National Water Center) are paying my salary,” says Ogden, who is UW’s Cline Endowed Chair of Engineering, Environment and Natural Resources. “It’s a great opportunity for a faculty member to go do something different and participate in an effort that will benefit the nation.”

The water center -- affiliated with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service -- has used portions of the ADHydro Model developed by Ogden’s research group at UW. ADHydro is a quasi-3-D, large watershed simulator. The model was developed for computer operations on massive parallel computing hardware to efficiently simulate large managed watersheds. ADHydro development was funded by the National Science Foundation and Wyoming’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Ogden’s model is compatible with the WRF-Hydro model but provides higher resolution that will improve flood forecast modeling as storms move across the country. Unlike many other models, ADHydro includes water management capabilities.

That is important to the water center, because it is running a water model over the entire U.S. and is looking for ways to improve it through Ogden’s expertise and knowledge.

Ogden, who is working with a team of roughly 100 people, surmises his senior scientist appointment came as a result of showing the water center what he and his associates were able do with the water model -- and the relationships Ogden established during his sabbatical year at the water center.

As part of an innovators program at the water center, Ogden recently worked with Ph.D. students -- in the areas of civil engineering, environmental science, geography and communications -- from around the country. Ogden instructed them on how his rainfall simulator system works, and he worked with them on high-resolution hydrological modeling with an emphasis on how to get the right information to first responders in the event of a flood.

“The thinking for this summer innovation program is that we want to offer a real-world opportunity. These kids doing research will bring their ideas,” Ogden says. “We can benefit from these ideas and, perhaps, we can identify people we can hire in the future. It also gives their faculty advisers knowledge of the needs of the National Weather Service. If they have the technology or tools we should be using, they can let us know.”



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