The University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling (UCCHM) is an initiative across nearly all the UC campuses and affiliated laboratories to create a state-of-the-art, integrated model of California water resources. Founding Director since Fall 2009 is Professor Jay Famiglietti who additionally holds appointments in the Departments of Earth System Science, and Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Irvine.
The models and modeling framework developed at the Center allow to address pressing issues including how water availability will change in response to climate change and a diminishing snowpack; how these resources will vary in response to climate oscillations such as El Nino; and how the frequency of hydrologic extremes such as flooding and drought will affect California. An important outcome of UCCHM’s work is to influence local, state and regional (WesternU.S.) water policy and decision making and have the major water agencies participate in the effort as stakeholders.
Located on campus of the University of California, Irvine, the Center functions as an open, community-based modeling effort where a team of faculty, researchers, and students work on developing and supporting models, and where collaborators, practitioners, workshops, short courses and outreach are hosted; a partnership with several UC campuses, national laboratories and state agencies, that collectively works towards building a comprehensive suite of hydrological model components and integrated water cycle models for California to support critical research and applications for our state. In short, UCCHM poses and addresses the challenge of comprehensive and continuous multi-scale prediction of the quantity of water at every point on and in the land surface across our state, including comprehensive error analysis.
The long-term mission for UCCHM is to provide state-of-the-art, statewide, integrated water cycle modeling tools to support research, explore environmental solutions, and to provide highly reliable information to decision makers; to transfer these tolls and knowledge to the research, education, operational and practitioner communities interested in California and the West; and more generally, to train students, researchers and faculty in hydrology and hydrological modeling.
A key component of the Center’s research uses data from NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission to track changes in freshwater availability in large aquifers and river basins. The GRACE-based research has allowed UCCHM to accurately detect current rates of groundwater depletion in California’s Central Valley and in other major aquifer systems around the globe. The Center is actively researching how other satellite sensors can contribute to monitoring all of California’s waters, including the Sierra snowpack, surface waters in our lakes, reservoirs and rivers, and the water in our soils. UCCHM is committed to freely sharing its data and communicating its key findings to environmental decision makers, water managers, and to the community at large.