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Beighley Awarded $651K NASA Grant

August 18, 2016

CEE Associate Professor Edward Beighley receives a $651K NASA grant for "Integrating lateral contributions and longitudinal controls along river reaches to improve SWOT discharge estimates".

Understanding the potential impacts of climate and land cover change at continental to global scales with a sufficient resolution for community scale planning and management requires an improved representation of the hydrologic cycle that is not currently possible with existing measurement networks and Earth system models.  The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission, scheduled to launch in 2021, has the potential to overcome this challenge. The mission is a joint effort between NASA and the French Space Agency and will provide measurements of water surface elevation, slope and extent for all global rivers wider than roughly 50-100 meters at a temporal sampling frequency ranging from roughly 1 day to 1 week.  The global uniformity and space/time resolution of the proposed SWOT measurements will enable hydrologic discovery, model advancements and new applications addressing the above challenges that are not currently possible or likely even conceivable.

This award supports research to advance the scientific development of the SWOT mission and future hydrologic applications and activities related to PI Beighley’s roles in the SWOT Science Team and as one of two U.S. SWOT Applications Scientists.  Research will focus on understanding how hydrologic processes are integrated along SWOT measurement boundaries, new methods for improving SWOT data products (e.g., river discharge), and quantifying the potential “value added” of SWOT data products in hydrologic applications. Professor Beighley will work with the global insurance industry to develop new methods for integrating SWOT measurements into flood hazard applications. Given the potential for the SWOT mission to provide new data and insights for many developing regions of the world, the research will characterize flood hazards and risks using only available datasets, only synthetic SWOT data products and merged datasets to quantify changes in flood hazards, risks and potential losses derived from SWOT data products. This research will develop new tools to enable the use SWOT data products as well as insights on how SWOT will impact flood hazard and risk assessments in regions with limited in-situ data.