$4.5 million NSF “Facebook for hydrologists” project taps UNC as technical lead

RENCI, the Renaissance Computing Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill, has been tapped as the technical lead in a $4.5 million collaborative water project by the National Science Foundation. The project, which involves a team that spans eight U.S. universities, aims to develop a cyberinfrastructure that will significantly broaden water researchers’ ability to share and access data.

The five-year project, dubbed HydroShare, will provide $2.1 million to RENCI to build an infrastructure that will help hydrologists easily access water-related research data and models that are online, retrieve them to their desktops, and analyze them using shared software and products. With the increased data-sharing capacity, the project could potentially be used to better simulate the flow of water in rivers and streams, water’s behavior during storms, and how pollutants are transported.

“Think of it as Facebook for hydrologists who want to work collaboratively sharing data and models,” said Utah State University’s David Tarboton, Sc.D., the lead principal investigator on the project. At UNC, Ray Idaszak, RENCI’s director of collaborative environments, and Larry Band, Ph.D., director of UNC’s Institute for the Environment, will serve as co-principal investigators.

“Scientific problems related to water—how to maintain quality, manage scarce water resources, and ensure accessibility—are fundamental to the health of our planet and its societies,” said Idaszak. “If we can help water scientists share and publish their data and make it easier for them to collaborate and address these critical challenges, the benefits will be widespread and long lasting. We feel privileged to partner with the hydrology community to solve these critical problems.”

Drawing upon internationally recognized faculty expertise, UNC-Chapel Hill has launched a two-year campus academic theme, “Water in Our World.” 

Published August 23, 2012.