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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Esri Web Maps Provide Forecasting for NOAA’s National Water Model

August 30th, 2016 by Susan Smith

About two weeks ago, Esri launched a collection of web maps that display NOAA forecast streamflow data for the continental U.S. NOAA’s recently released National Water Model. Data from the Model combined with the National Hydrography Dataset and fed by NOAA’s National Weather Service data, forecasts the flow of water along the 2.7 million stream segments in the continental U.S. in ArcGIS Online.

NWM_10_Day_Anomaly_2GISCafe Voice spoke with Sean Breyer of Esri about Esri’s multi-scale visualization of the National Water Model that enables forecast water flows in real time at high resolution. The National Water Model is built independently of GIS using a model called RAPID.

A year in the making, the web maps include the following four available services, that can be found in The Living Atlas of the World in ArcGIS Online, or by connecting to the server.

National Water Model (Hourly Anomaly Forecast) Contains 15 one-hour forecast intervals visualized by flowrate and anomaly compared to normal monthly flow values. Over 40 million data rows…

National Water Model (Hourly Forecast) Contains 15 one-hour forecast intervals visualized by flowrate. Over 40 million data rows…

National Water Model (10 Day Anomaly Forecast) Contains 80 three-hour forecast intervals visualized by flowrate and anomaly compared to normal monthly flow values. Over 215 million data rows…

National Water Model (10 Day Forecast) Contains 80 three-hour forecast intervals visualized by flowrate. Over 215 million rows…

All were designed for fast visualization. These map services are currently in Beta. Esri will release an open-source toolkit with documentation for ArcGIS users who are interested in water prediction and analysis to produce custom maps and analyze data by the end of 2016.

They include NOAA’s National Water Model historic data and how it is relevant to current water flow patterns today.

“With the heightened number of extreme flooding events we have seen this year – West Virginia, Maryland, and most recently, Louisiana – water forecasts and the analysis of water conditions, the ability to more effectively predict flooding events becomes even more important,” said Breyer.  The mapping of the flow of water along 2.7 million stream segments in the U.S. River network, using Esri’s data rich maps, improves NOAA’s ability to provide life-saving data for emergency responders, reservoir operators, ecosystem professionals, and floodplain managers to anticipate flood and drought conditions. The maps pull together NOAA’s new water model data and Esri ArcGIS functionality to provide interactive views or current and future water-system behaviors.

How is this much content quickly rendered? Each service is constructed using several layers. The bottom layer stores the raw base data in a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), used for the unique feature identification and large scale display. The Watershed Boundary Dataset Hydrologic Unit 4 Watershed ID, Stream Order Level, Flowrate Classification, Anomaly Classification and Forecast Timestamp is used to dissolve base data for small scale display.

A small number of multi-part features reside in the dissolved data and can be drawn quickly no matter what geographic region viewed, then stored on a local File Geodatabase. The feature with the largest Stream Order value that you click on is the one used for feature identification.

Plans for the future include additions of the long term water model which extend out 30 days. “Improvements in the National Hydro Database monthly mean values for rivers,” said Breyer. “And we are working with the National Water Center on best practices to host similar maps. For the short term map, it will be helpful to add in 72-hour precipitation.”


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Categories: analytics, ArcGIS, Big Data, climate change, data, disaster relief, emergency response, Esri, geospatial, GIS, GPS, insurance, NASA, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, NGA, NOAA, Open Source, OpenGeo, public safety, satellite imagery, spatial data, storm surge

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