Challenges of Computational Hydrology and the Potential Community Empowerment


May 27, 2014


Faisal Hossain, Jim Nelson, and Robert Brakenridge


University of Washington, University of Colorado, Brigham Young University


Chair: Kristin Tolle, Microsoft Research Speakers: Faisal Hossain, University of Washington Robert Brakenridge, University of Colorado Jim Nelson, Brigham Young University


Faisal Hossain, Jim Nelson, and Robert Brakenridge

Faisal Hossain is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington. His research interests comprise remote sensing applications, human impacts on water, sustainable water resources engineering, education and outreach. He is the recipient of awards such as NASA New Investigator Award, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Outstanding Research Award, National Association of Environmental Professionals Education Excellence Award, US Fulbright Faculty Award and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Charles Falkenberg Award. Currently he serves as an associate editor for Journal of Hydrometeorology and was recently the lead editor for the water encyclopedia.

Dr. Robert Brakenridge is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Colorado. He founded the Flood Observatory in 1993 at Dartmouth College; it moved with him to the University of Colorado in 2010. The Observatory conducts space-based monitoring of surface water changes for humanitarian, research, and water management applications. It has acquired and is preserving for public use a digital map record of the Earth’s changing surface water, including changes related to floods, droughts, wetlands, shorelines, lakes, and reservoir management. The Observatory monitors such changes in near real time, so that the resulting information has maximum utility to the disaster response community.

Research collaborators in the development of the Observatory and its capabilities (now extending to remotely sensed discharge measurements) are: S. V. Nghiem, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, T. De Groeve, Joint Research Centre of the EC, and F. Policelli and D. Slayback, NASA-Goddard. Research assistant staffing has benefitted from many students, sometimes as volunteers. Funding is through project-related contracts from NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the World Bank, the Development Bank of Latin America and other sources. The Flood Observatory actively seeks new projects that are compatible with its mission. It is currently working closely with the UN World Food Programme to improve its response capabilities for flood events.

Dr. Nelson’s research focuses on hydrology and automated watershed characterization from digital terrain data. He was one of three principal faculty of the Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory (EMRL), which in 2007 formed Aquaveo LLC. He has held a full time faculty appointment in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of BYU since 1996 and teaches courses in computing, surveying, hydrology and hydrologic modeling, and geographic information systems while continuing his research. He has worked extensively in Latin American, leading study abroad activities to conduct student-led projects and research in many countries including Chile, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

His research has resulted in the development of the Watershed Modeling System (WMS) that assists engineers in developing hydrologic models from digital elevation, soils, land use, and other electronic sources. His work with WMS has pioneered tools in automated watershed delineation and spatial hydrologic analysis using geographic information systems. WMS has been distributed to government, private, and university institutions in more than 100 countries. Most recently he has worked on funded research from NSF to improve cyber infrastructure for water resources modeling that includes standards-based system for water information collection, storage, analysis, and dissemination.