Iowa City Press-Citzen: Flood Center Working Hard for Iowa, World

Saturday, June 15, 2013

We said the change highlights just how hard director Witold Krajewsi and other flood center staff have been working to make sure state lawmakers understand the statewide impact of the center’s research.

We said the Iowa Flood Center is a prime example of the broad impact UI has on a statewide level.

And now the Iowa Flood Center looks to have an impact globally as well.

NASA’s experts have been working with the Iowa Flood Center to collect ground data across Iowa that ultimately will be paired with satellite data collected through NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in an effort to take flood forecasting to a new level.

“It’s a local study with global applications,” NASA scientist Walt Petersen said.

NASA plans to launch a network of international satellites in February 2014 that will provide rain and snow observations from space every three hours, data that current technology provides only twice daily. The idea is to more accurately measure precipitation and predict flooding so that decision-makers can better prepare.

Petersen said although they cause considerable damage in Iowa, floods have the largest impact on underdeveloped countries, where thousands of people annually lose their lives to flooding. A major reason is because many areas don’t have the ability to provide warning to residents, something GPM is expected to help with, he said.

Krajewski said Iowa was a natural host for the so-called Iowa Flood Studies campaign because of the amount of flooding the state has experienced over the years, including just this month.

The Iowa Flood Center, established in the wake of the devastating 2008 flood, has proven to be an invaluable asset for helping to ensure that Iowa is better prepared for flooding. The center has improved water monitoring by developing an online mapping system that shows where flooding will occur if the water reaches certain levels.

Throughout the recent flood event, the local representatives of the U.S. Corps of Engineers stayed in close communication with the experts from the Iowa Flood Center, who worked on a wide variety of options for figuring out exactly what new areas could be flooded every time the corps increased the output at the Coralville Dam.

We’re proud that the Iowa Flood Center was tapped to help with NASA’s potentially live-saving study. The good work done by the center in the aftermath of the 2008 flood has more than proven that its funding isn’t a mere expense for the state; it’s an investment to help ensure not just Iowa, and now the world, is better prepared when the next big flood comes.