CCU chosen as national hydrology research consortium partner

April 13, 2022
Shaowu Bao, Ph.D., is an associate professor of marine science at CCU.Leonard Pietrafesa, Ph.D., is a research professor of marine science at CCU.Paul Gayes, Ph.D., is a professor of marine science and executive director of the Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies at CCU.

Coastal Carolina University has been selected as a partner of the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH), a newly-formed consortium consisting of 28 academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government and industry partners across the United States and Canada.

Gupta College of Science faculty members Shaowu Bao, Ph.D., associate professor of marine science; Leonard Pietrafesa, Ph.D., research professor of marine science; and Paul Gayes, Ph.D., professor of marine science and executive director of the Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, will participate in consortium research projects. The group will develop and deliver national hydrological analyses, forecast information, data, guidance, and equitable decision-support services to inform essential emergency management and water resources decisions.

The $360 million alliance, funded over the next five years by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is led by the University of Alabama and headquartered at the Alabama Water Institute. CIROH will work closely with NOAA’s National Water Center (NWC) and the recently announced U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility on the UA campus, providing opportunities for collaboration between CIROH’s cooperative members and other federal agency scientists in pursuit of supporting four broad themes:

• Water resources prediction capabilities.

• Community water resources modeling.

• Hydroinformatics.

• Application of social, economic, and behavioral science to water resources prediction.

CCU was selected to be a partner organization based on recent studies of water-related coastal processes, including hurricane modeling and forecasting, and flood forecasting, as well as research related to renewable energy, and contaminant and public health concerns.

The consortium will benefit CCU students and staff in several ways.

“This consortium, in addition to providing funding for research involving observations and modeling studies related to coastal and inland waters, will offer opportunities for CCU students and faculty to connect with the consortium's water research community,” Bao said.

CCU graduate student Hongyuan Zhang was recently chosen for the 2022 National Water Center Innovator Program Summer Internship, where he will be working at NWC with some of the nation’s top hydrologists. The consortium will also help boost internal collaborations among CCU researchers.

The improvement of the National Water Model is one example of planned research in which CCU will participate in the CIROH, with plans to couple offshore processes to inland river basins via harbors, river mouths, and estuaries that extend to coastal seawater, allowing it to more realistically model and predict coastal river-sea interaction processes. CCU scientists published their study about compound flooding, which links coastal and inland systems, and was among the first of its kind to reveal the coupled nature of the flooding challenge.

The CCU team is excited to collectively help improve the nation’s ability to predict water-related hazards and effectively manage water resources, which is the initiative’s ultimate goal.

“In this period of advancing climate change, we must understand the present to be able to predict the future for coastal states and their citizenry,” Pietrafesa said.

CIROH’s 14 consortium members include: The University of Alabama; Brigham Young University; Colorado School of Mines; Tuskegee University; The University of Alabama in Huntsville; University of Arizona; University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of Hawai‘i at M?noa; University of Iowa; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of Saskatchewan; University of Utah; University of Vermont; and Utah State University.

Consortium partners include: Baron Weather Inc.; Coastal Carolina University; Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrological Science Inc.; Dauphin Island Sea Lab; Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System; Jupiter Intelligence; New Mexico State University; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; The Pennsylvania State University; RTI International; Stevens Institute of Technology; University of California, Davis; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and University of South Carolina.