North American Water Program (NAWP)

September 11, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

Solutions for North America’s freshwater sustainability challenges

September 2012

I am currently helping to develop the North American Water Program (NAWP), that will establish the scientific basis, observation, modeling and decision approaches needed to manage water security and sustainability through climate, population and environmental change uncertainties.

White Paper

Short Breifing

Motivation:  We lack the water storage and flux knowledge, prediction skill and science-informed water management methods to adequately address North America’s freshwater sustainability challenges. Atmospheric processes, terrestrial rivers and hydroclimactic processes transcend eco-regions and political boundaries requiring a continental-to-global scale hydroclimate synthesis.

Vision: Establish the scientific basis, observation, modeling and decision approaches needed to manage water security and sustainability through climate, population and environmental change uncertainties.

Objective: An interdisciplinary integration of North American hydroclimate observation and prediction resources that transcends scales and enables procedures and analytic tools to adapt to change.

Science Question: How does climate, environmental and population change affect the water cycle across scales, to what extent is it predictable, and can we adapt to achieve freshwater sustainability?


  • Adaptation: Develop the scientific basis and tools to adapt to climate, population and environmental changes in the water cycle.
  • Benchmarking: Assess water storage and quality dynamics, understand the sensitivity of the water cycle to change, and evaluate model skill for improved hydrologic predictions
  • Science informing decisions: Develop the capacity for science-informed sustainable water management practices in the face of climate, population and environmental change.


  • Quantify: Systematically quantify North American water storages and fluxes; develop records of atmosphere, water, land and energy-related quantities, including uncertainty estimates.
  • Understand: Analyze variations, trends and extremes in the water cycle, and determine the impacts of the specific adaptation measures on water resource and related sectors.
  • Predict: Improve continental precipitation, cloud and hydrology prediction through accelerated development of coupled atmospheric and land models; Develop advanced hydroclimate models that seamlessly ingest observations to monitor and forecast water availability and change.
  • Solutions: Develop and transition new observations, models, diagnostic tools and methods, and data management tools to national operational applications.

Filed in: Activities, Presentations, Reports

Dr. Paul R. Houser

About the Author (Author Profile)

Dr. Houser in an internationally recognized expert in local to global land surface-atmospheric remote sensing, in-situ observation and numerical simulation, development and application of hydrologic data assimilation methods, scientific integrity and policy, and global water and energy cycling. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Hydrology and Water Resources from the University of Arizona in 1992 and 1996 respectively. Dr. Houser's previous experience includes internships at the U.S. Geological Survey and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Houser joined the NASA-GSFC Hydrological Sciences Branch and the Data Assimilation Office (DAO/GMAO) in 1997, served as manager of NASA’s Land Surface Hydrology Program, and served as branch head of the Hydrological Science Branch. In 2005, he joined the George Mason University Climate Dynamics Program and the Geography and Geoinformation Sciences Department as Professor of Global Hydrology, and formed CREW (the Center for Research for Environment and Water). Dr. Houser has also teamed with groundwater development and exploration companies (EarthWater Global and Geovesi) and has served as Science Advisor to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Dr. Houser has led numerous scientific contributions, including the development of Land Data Assimilation Systems (LDAS), the Hydrospheric States Mission (Hydros/SMAP), the Land Information System (LIS), the NASA Energy and Water cycle Study (NEWS), and the Water Cycle Solutions Network (WaterNet).

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