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Justin L. Huntington, Katherine C. Hegewisch, Britta Daudert, Charles G. Morton, John T. Abatzoglou, Daniel J. McEvoy, and Tyler Erickson

Abstract

The paucity of long-term observations, particularly in regions with heterogeneous climate and land cover, can hinder incorporating climate data at appropriate spatial scales for decision-making and scientific research. Numerous gridded climate, weather, and remote sensing products have been developed to address the needs of both land managers and scientists, in turn enhancing scientific knowledge and strengthening early-warning systems. However, these data remain largely inaccessible for a broader segment of users given the computational demands of big data. Climate Engine (http://ClimateEngine.org) is a web-based application that overcomes many computational barriers that users face by employing Google’s parallel cloud-computing platform, Google Earth Engine, to process, visualize, download, and share climate and remote sensing datasets in real time. The software application development and design of Climate Engine is briefly outlined to illustrate the potential for high-performance processing of big data using cloud computing. Second, several examples are presented to highlight a range of climate research and applications related to drought, fire, ecology, and agriculture that can be rapidly generated using Climate Engine. The ability to access climate and remote sensing data archives with on-demand parallel cloud computing has created vast opportunities for advanced natural resource monitoring and process understanding.

Open access
Katja Friedrich, Robert L. Grossman, Justin Huntington, Peter D. Blanken, John Lenters, Kathleen D. Holman, David Gochis, Ben Livneh, James Prairie, Erik Skeie, Nathan C. Healey, Katharine Dahm, Christopher Pearson, Taryn Finnessey, Simon J. Hook, and Ted Kowalski

Abstract

One way to adapt to and mitigate current and future water scarcity is to manage and store water more efficiently. Reservoirs act as critical buffers to ensure agricultural and municipal water deliveries, mitigate flooding, and generate hydroelectric power, yet they often lose significant amounts of water through evaporation, especially in arid and semiarid regions. Despite this fact, reservoir evaporation has been an inconsistently and inaccurately estimated component of the water cycle within the water resource infrastructure of the arid and semiarid western United States. This paper highlights the increasing importance and challenges of correctly estimating and forecasting reservoir evaporation in the current and future climate, as well as the need to bring new ideas and state-of-the-art practices for the estimation of reservoir evaporation into operational use for modern water resource managers. New ideas and practices include i) improving the estimation of reservoir evaporation using up-to-date knowledge, state-of-the-art instrumentation and numerical models, and innovative experimental designs to diagnose processes and accurately forecast evaporation; ii) improving our understanding of spatial and temporal variations in evaporative water loss from existing reservoirs and transferring this knowledge when expanding reservoirs or siting new ones; and iii) implementing an adaptive management plan that incorporates new knowledge, observations, and forecasts of reservoir evaporation to improve water resource management.

Open access