Sen. Richard Shelby announces $360 million UA funding NOAA research

Richard Shelby

Senator Richard Shelby, Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, announced that NOAA has selected the University of Alabama (UA) to host a new cooperative institute focused on accelerating hydrology research and enhancing collaboration. This new institute will be created with an award of $360 million that will be distributed over the course of five years, with the potential for renewal in another five years.

The new research venture will establish the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH) and will be administered by the Alabama Water Institute.  It will consist of a group of 28 academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and government and industry partners with 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. 

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.

“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,” stated Shelby in a press release.

UA System Chancellor Finis St. John emphasized how the funding will help UA lead the nation in water research.

“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. 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,” St. John stated.

“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.”