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National Water Center opens on University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa

May 26, 2015 The National Water Center, a new facility located at the University of Alabama, is poised to become an incubator for innovative breakthroughs in water prediction products and services. As the country becomes more vulnerable to water-related events, from drought to flooding, the innovative predictive science and services developed by NOAA and its partners at the National Water Center will bolster the nation’s ability to manage threats to its finite water resources and mitigate impacts to communities.
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NOAA and partners officially opened the new National Water Center building on the campus of the University of Alabama on May 26, 2015. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA and partners officially opened the new National Water Center building on the campus of the University of Alabama on May 26, 2015. (Credit: NOAA)

The center will be a hub of integrated water prediction and forecasting for the federal government. Scientists and forecasters at the 65,000 square-foot building will collaborate to provide the nation with enhanced water-related products and services to support water management decisions across the country. Bringing experts together in this new collaborative center provides an unprecedented opportunity to improve federal coordination in the water sector to address 21st century water resource challenges, such as water security, and analysis and prediction of hydrologic extremes, like droughts and floods.

“The new National Water Center will help us create a safer, more secure, weather-ready nation,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Measuring, managing, and planning for water is complex, and the need for a more integrated approach has never been greater. Through this center, we will work with our partners in the federal government, community leaders nationwide, and the University of Alabama to deliver solutions to one of our most pressing environmental challenges.”

"As America’s environmental intelligence agency, NOAA is committed to transforming our observations into actionable information that enable people to make smart decisions. By bringing academia, managers, industry, forecasters and scientists together, we’ll be able to better understand real-world needs and support the growing demand for water related information," said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator.

Video: The National Weather Service is proud to announce the new National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Center will be in the forefront of addressing the the nation's complicated challenges in dealing with water management and resources that we will face today and in the foreseeable future. (Credit: NOAA)

“The opening of the National Water Center marks a significant step forward in water resource management and hazard mitigation for the state of Alabama and our nation,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, whose support was instrumental in securing funding for the center. “This state-of-the-art facility will be the first ever clearing house for research and operational forecasting of all water-related matters. I am proud to see this vision come to fruition, and I look forward to seeing what great things come out of the National Water Center.”

A visiting scientist program will promote innovation by offering assignments to applied researchers who will help accelerate advancements that support NOAA’s mission. This mutual sharing of ideas and experience between federal and academic researchers and forecasters will advance the field of water sciences prediction and help create a Weather-Ready Nation, one that is capable of anticipating and responding to extreme water events.

The University of Alabama boasts a robust research program focused on the protection and restoration of the nation’s water supply and natural environment. This summer, UA will initiate an effort to partner federal agencies with academia to build a new high resolution, near real-time hydrologic simulation and forecasting model, with the goal of establishing research collaborations that will sustain innovation into the future. These and other planned water collaborations between the university and the National Water Center provide a unique, hands-on learning opportunity for students.

Architects designed the sustainable, energy-efficient building with unique features to support a highly collaborative workspace, and to reflect NOAA’s environment and science mission and the important public work carried out within its walls. The building earned LEED gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.

At the building’s core is the operations center, which will provide users from multiple agencies with day-to-day national situational awareness and water predictions to create a common picture of water resources. The work environment encourages interaction by co-locating experts from across disciplines and creating an open office design to promote greater communication and collaboration. This approach of collocating researchers and forecasters will allow for more accurate environmental predictions, advanced ecosystem forecasting and acceleration of new ideas from research to operation.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.
 

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