COMET Outreach Program Request for Office of Water Prediction (OWP)/National Water Center (NWC) Partners Project Proposals


COMET announces its Outreach Program Request for Proposals (RFP) for National Water Center (NWC) Partners Projects, which are described below. Applications for the COMET Partners Projects are accepted at any time as long as funds are available. Guidelines for proposal submission can be found at the NWC Partners Proposals page.

RFP Goal

Since 1989, the COMET Outreach Program has provided financial support to over 80 universities for applied meteorological and hydrological research conducted in collaboration with operational forecast offices. This current initiative is with NOAA’s National Water Center (NWC).

The new NWC facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is part of a larger programmatic structure of the NWS/OWP that includes units in Maryland and Minnesota.  It was established to research, develop, and deliver state-of-the-science national hydrologic analyses, forecast information, data, decision-support services, and guidance to inform essential emergency services and water management decisions. In partnership with NWS national, regional, and local offices, the OWP coordinates, integrates, and supports consistent water prediction activities from global to local levels.

The OWP implemented a CONUS-scale instantiation of the WRF-Hydro modeling framework as the first version of a National Water Model (NWM) in August of 2016. This version of WRF-Hydro couples the NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) forcing data from operational numerical weather prediction models with the NOAH-MP land-surface model and diffusive wave hydrologic routing to produce water budget variables on the 1-km grid and streamflow estimates on the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) NHDPlusV2 catchment/network flow line scale.

Under the management of the COMET Outreach Program, the OWP will provide support up to six Partners Projects. The purpose of this RFP is to broaden OWP and NWS water resource programmatic activities by encouraging university researchers with hydrologic expertise to partner with current NWC or other OWP employees in advancing water resources information and decision support services. Proposal topics should include (but are not limited to) the following research areas of interest:

  • Technique development to assess local and regional skill and performance of using the operational output from the NWM: Projects in this category should explore the validation of the full suite of water budget variable(e.g. streamflow, soil moisture, surface flux) data on local networks; methods for comparing against in-situ observations, or post-processing techniques such as time-lagged ensembles.
  • Expand remote sensing and citizen science for river and stream channel geometries to improve flood mapping.  Emerging technologies in aircraft borne radar provide the potential to accelerate the estimation of stream channel geometry (e.g. location and height of banks, below surface stream beds, and floodplain width.) These measurements are critical input to water resources models and water level and flood extent estimation techniques.  Additionally, recent engagements with the academic community suggest that elements of citizen science could also be leveraged to “crowd source” critical chanel geometry data both through direct measurements or image capture and analysis.

  • Hydro-informatics, visualization and data integration: Projects in this category may include methods for exploring, understanding and managing complex data problems such as the large volume of information within the NWM suite.  Techniques to visualize data and represent complex water resources information to aid decision support services, such as the characterization and representation of uncertainty, are desired. Methods to integrate NWM output with geospatial flood extent and depth information are also encouraged.

NWC Partners Projects
COMET Outreach Partners Projects provide support for collaborative applied research efforts that typically focus on a single case study or analysis problem. The purpose of this RFP is to broaden NWC and NWS water resource programmatic activities by encouraging university researchers with hydrologic expertise to partner with current NWC employees in advancing water science and operations.

Under the management of the COMET Outreach Program, the NWC will provide support for up to six Partners Projects that will last one year and have a maximum funding level of $15,000 per project. These proposals will be funded based on the selection criteria until all project funds have been awarded.

Partners Projects must have one or more primary NWC or other OWP collaborators and are encouraged to have one or more River Forecast Center (RFC) partners who will actively collaborate in the research. If assistance is needed to identify potential collaborators, contact the OWP Program Manager (Sam Contorno Additional collaborations with NWS River Forecast Centers or NCEP are encouraged although not required.

Partners Project Reporting Requirements
Awardees will be required to submit a semi-annual report and a final report at the end of the award term. Reports will be posted on the COMET Outreach Program Website.

Application Procedure
Interested applicants can access the Outreach Proposal Instructions from the Partners Proposals page.

For More Information
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