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Shelby: University of Alabama receives $360 million NOAA Research Award

The goal of this institute will be to improve NOAA’s actionable water resource information for forecasts, watches, warnings, and related products.

The University of Alabama's main campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, yesterday announced that NOAA has selected the University of Alabama (UA) to host a new cooperative institute focused on accelerating hydrology research and enhancing collaboration. The new research venture establishes the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH), which is headquartered at and will be administered by the Alabama Water Institute. It will consist of a consortium of 28 academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and government and industry partners. The goal of this institute will be to improve NOAA’s actionable water resource information for forecasts, watches, warnings, and related products to protect life and property and strengthen the national economy. The selection of UA to lead this national water effort includes an award of up to $360 million which would be distributed over the course of five years, with the potential for renewal for another five years.

“I am thrilled that the University of Alabama has received this competitive award to facilitate a cutting-edge Cooperative Institute focused on hydrology. UA has the unique environment and expertise to lead the nation in high-level water research between 28 partners. Thanks to the Alabama Water Institute’s leadership in assembling a world-class team, the growing scientific expertise and collaborations in Alabama will continue to benefit the nation. Additionally, NOAA’s efforts to create this innovative institute will, in turn, protect communities and promote wise investments across the nation through better water models, forecasts, and predictions.  This award is excellent news for Alabama and its findings will influence decisions made across the continent for years to come,” said Senator Shelby.

“The addition of the Cooperative Institute to the University of Alabama’s campus bolsters UA’s position at the epicenter of water research and operations,” said UA System Chancellor Finis St. John. “The opportunity to earn this competitive grant and lead the nation in this transformative work providing exceptional educational opportunities for our students would not be possible without Senator Richard Shelby’s support to bring the National Water Center and U.S. Geological Survey partners to our campus.”

“The research institutes were established on campus to support and expand upon the great work done by our faculty, staff, and students in addressing real challenges facing our society. This award will elevate those contributions, bringing innovation to such a critical issue as water quality and availability while enriching the educational experience of our students. The expertise of the Alabama Water Institute is positioned well to answer our nation’s call to improve the lives and livelihood of Americans and our partner nations,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell.

“The new cooperative institute will work with NOAA to research and develop state-of-the-science water analysis, forecasts, and guidance, and the equitable delivery of decision-support services,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “This program will train the next generation of scientists focused on addressing water issues and emergencies on all time scales, helping NOAA build a Climate Ready Nation that is responsive and resilient in a changing world.”

“I am proud to be spearheading this unprecedented Cooperative Institute, which will not only create a consortium of institutions that will leverage their individual prowess to address today’s most pressing water issues but also usher UA forward in its status as an emerging and leading water research institution,” said Scott Rayder, Alabama Water Institute Executive Director.

NOAA selected the University of Alabama as the host for CIROH following a highly-competitive evaluation.  The campus is home to the National Water Center, NOAA’s hub for U.S. water forecast operations, which supports research and collaboration efforts across federal water science and management agencies.

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