TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WHNT) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has chosen the University of Alabama to host a new institute that will focus on hydrology research.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations shared the news of the grant that will award up to $360 million that would be distributed over five years and could be renewed for another five years.

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

“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,” Senator Shelby stated in a news release.

“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,” stated UA System Chancellor Finis St. John. 

“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,” stated UA President Stuart R. Bell.

“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,” stated Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. 

“I am proud to be spearheading this unprecedented Cooperative Institute, which will not only create a consortium of institutions that will leverage their individual prowess to address today’s most pressing water issues but also usher UA forward in its status as an emerging and leading water research institution,” stated Scott Rayder, Alabama Water Institute Executive Director.

NOAA selected the University of Alabama as the host for CIROH following an evaluation. The campus is already home to the National Water Center, NOAA’s hub for U.S. water forecast operations, which supports research efforts across federal water science and management agencies.