University of Wyoming Student to Help Researchers Map Hydrology of Colorado River Basin #coriver

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Here’s the release from the University of Wyoming:

This past summer, Nels Frazier taught computational science concepts to high school and middle school students around the state. This fall, the University of Wyoming fifth-year undergraduate from LaGrange will receive some supercomputing education of his own.

Frazier, who double majors in computer science and mathematics, is part of a team of UW researchers that will use the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) to map the hydrology of the Colorado River Basin.

“We are doing something that hasn’t been attempted before — taking the Upper Colorado River Basin and putting it into a computer model,” Frazier says. “It wouldn’t be possible without the supercomputer. We want to take this massive amount of data and make it into something usable.”

A comprehensive model of the upper Colorado River Basin — at a resolution 100 times higher than currently available — will be created. The physics-based hydrologic model will be applicable over large areas to help assess long-term impacts of water policy and resource management decisions, natural and man-made land-use changes, and climate variability — with an emphasis on the Rocky Mountain west region.

Fred Ogden, the Cline Distinguished Chair in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, and Haub School of Environmental and Natural Resources, and Craig Douglas, SER professor of mathematics and director for the Institute for Scientific Computation, will head the project, titled “CI-Water Petascale Computational Model for the Upper Colorado River Basin.”

The CI-WATER project is a joint collaboration among UW, the University of Utah, Utah State University and Brigham Young University. Cooperators include the United States Army Corps of Engineers and NCAR.

The CI-WATER project is funded with an EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program (RII) Track-2 cooperative agreement. Distributed through the National Science Foundation, these cooperative agreements provide research funding to states, including Wyoming, that typically receive lesser amounts of NSF research and development funding.

Ogden was looking for a couple of undergraduate students familiar with a UNIX computing environment and with experience using C or C++ programs, says Frazier, whose background includes programming and systems administration.

Frazier’s role, which began this past summer, includes setting up a campus computer lab and systems administration, as well as plan how to build the software needed to run the computer model on the supercomputer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided model-building software for the project.

“We’re taking that source code from that software and we have to figure out if it’s capable of working with the models we want,” Frazier says. “We’re using what they already have so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We’ll add to their software to get our job done.”

Before the project will be modeled on the supercomputer, the work will be scaled and tested using Mount Moran, the on-campus Advanced Research Computing Center (ARCC) located in the IT Data Center.

The large amount of data needs to be broken down into manageable sections of the basin that can be computed before the segments are brought back together to develop a comprehensive view of the data for the supercomputer, Frazier says.

“One of the big problems we have to solve is how to get high resolution images (of watersheds) at higher altitudes and lower resolution images at lower altitudes,” he says. “A lot of modeling doesn’t take that into account. We want to take these resolutions and put them into something we can understand.”

During the summer, Frazier says he put in up to 30 hours a week on the project. During the school year, he is limited to 18 hours a week because of academic demands, he says.

“My skills fit with this project. As I learned more about the project, I got more excited,” he says. “I’ve taken things I’ve learned and I am using them. This may help my graduate school prospects.”

The NWSC was unveiled Monday (Oct. 15) during a ceremonial opening dedication in the North Range Business Park in Cheyenne.

The NWSC will contain one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers (1.5 petaflops, which is equal to 1.5 quadrillion mathematical operations per second) dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality and other vital atmospheric science and geo-science topics. The center also will house a premier data storage (11 petabytes) and archival facility that holds historical climate records and other information.

Including Frazier’s project, the National Science Foundation has chosen seven UW research projects — ranging from planet formation from star debris to fluid dynamics of wind turbines — that will use the NWSC this fall.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Colorado college students get a birds eye view of oil and gas development in NW Colorado

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From the Craig Daily Press (Joe Moylan):

On Thursday, five students representing Colorado Mountain College, the University of Colorado and Colorado Mesa University flew over Craig as part of an educational program exploring the relationship between energy development and water conservation.

The program, organized by EcoFlight, an Aspen-based environmental nonprofit, blends airborne- and ground-based education designed to inform college students about current conservation issues from a broad range of perspectives…

In addition to flying over Craig Station and learning about oil and natural gas development in Moffat County while in the air, the students participated in a discussion at the Tin Cup Grill in Craig about local environmental issues with Luke Schafer, Western Slope campaign coordinator with the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

Schafer covered a lot of ground during his hour-long talk, bouncing from topic to topic and presenting his opinions on everything from water conservation, the Front Range’s thirst for Western Slope water, balanced and sustainable energy development and sage grouse.

Schafer told the students that sage grouse could be an environmental game changer because they are considered an indicator species…

Although the students were captivated by Schafer’s views on sage grouse, they were stunned to discover he also was an avid hunter.

“It’s easy to demonize people, especially hunters, but I want you all to know that’s me,” Schafer said. “People often forget that the conservation movement, the environmental movement or whatever you want to call it, traces its roots back to a group of hunters who wanted to protect that (Dinosaur National Monument) out there.

“No other group does more for conservation than hunters, but we do get a bad rep because not every hunter is quick to pull out their checkbook and contribute.”

More education coverage here.

Colorado Mountain College hopes to get in the high altitude flora business

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Mountain College wants to start a high-country nursery near Leadville that could help provide trees for fire-damaged areas or plants to use in wetlands projects.

The college wants to set up a solar greenhouse, a shade house to harden plants and an outdoor nursery to grow native forest and wetlands plants. It is seeking $200,000 from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for the project. Mike Simon, CEO of the Leadville CMC campus, and Nephi Thompson, a biology instructor, presented the plan to the Arkansas Basin Roundtable earlier this month. The roundtable agreed to refer the project to the state. The operation would be located at Hayden Ranch, south of Leadville. The ranch, founded in 1859, was purchased by Aurora for water rights in 1998. Most of the land was sold to the Bureau of Land Management and State Parks or donated to Lake County. The 36-acre homestead site was sold cheaply to Colorado Preservation Inc., and is used as a laboratory by CMC.
“With advance notice, we can adjust operations to meet demand,” Simon told the group.

The college officials acknowledged that the size of the operation — a 7,500 square-foot greenhouse, 3,450 square-foot shade house and 3 acres of outdoor plots — would not be enough to restore large areas, such as those burned by wildfires this year. But the plants grown in Leadville would have a better chance of survival for smaller projects, and provide an example of how high-country greenhouse operations could be set up. The project would also include classrooms and learning opportunities for students. “Seed grown at altitude has a better chance of survival with the cold, drought, sun and wind you experience in the mountains,” Thompson said. Plants grown at lower elevations have a high mortality rate when used in mountain restoration projects, she explained.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

CU-Boulder team wins the 2012 WEF Student Design Competition

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Here’s the release from the Water Environment Federation:

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) proudly announces students from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of South Florida as winners of the 2012 Student Design Competition. The eleventh annual competition took place this month in New Orleans, La. as part of WEFTEC® 2012, WEF’s 85th Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference.

The University of Colorado Boulder team’s project “Broadmoor Park Properties Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade” won in the wastewater design category, and the University of South Florida team’s project “Ragan Park” won in the environmental design category. This was the second win for the University of Colorado Boulder (a student chapter of the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association) and the second win for the University of South Florida (a student chapter of the Florida Water Environment Association) in eleven years.

A program of the WEF Students & Young Professionals Committee (SYPC), the Student Design Competition promotes real world design experience for students interested in pursuing an education and/or career in water/wastewater engineering and sciences. It tasks individuals or teams of students within a WEF student chapter to prepare a design to help solve a local water quality issue. Teams evaluate alternatives, perform calculations and recommend the most feasible solution based on experience, economics and feasibility.

Members of the University of Colorado Boulder team included Kristin Johansen, Maria Cabeza, Matthew Huntze, Bailey Leppek, Alexandra Murray and faculty advisor Angela Bielefeldt. Members of the University of South Florida team included Micah Blate, Danielle Bertini, Emily Patrick, Lyudmila Haralampieva, Gabriele Dionne and faculty advisor Sarina Ergas. Both teams received certificates and a $2,500 award as announced by WEF Past President Paul Freedman during a ceremony on September 30.

Sponsored by Black & Veatch, CDM Smith, Greeley and Hansen, and HDR Engineers, this year’s competition was organized by SYPC Design Competition Program Chair Lauren Zuravnsky and Vice Chair Allison Reinert with assistance from Design Competition Program Past Chair Michelle Hatcher and WEF Staff Liaison Dianne Crilley.

For more details, see “College Students” at www.wef.org/PublicInformation.

Here’s the release from the University of Colorado at Boulder:

A team of students from CU-Boulder joined students from the University of South Florida as winners of the Water Environment Federation’s 2012 Student Design Competition. The eleventh annual competition took place this month in New Orleans.

CU’s project “Broadmoor Park Properties Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade” won in the wastewater design category. This was the second win for CU-Boulder (a student chapter of the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association) in eleven years.

A program of the WEF Students & Young Professionals Committee (SYPC), the Student Design Competition promotes real world design experience for students interested in pursuing an education and/or career in water/wastewater engineering and sciences. It tasks individuals or teams of students within a WEF student chapter to prepare a design to help solve a local water quality issue. Teams evaluate alternatives, perform calculations and recommend the most feasible solution based on experience, economics and feasibility.

Members of the CU-Boulder team included Kristin Johansen, Maria Cabeza, Matthew Huntze, Bailey Leppek, Alexandra Murray and faculty advisor Angela Bielefeldt. Both teams received certificates and a $2,500 award as announced by WEF Past President Paul Freedman during a ceremony on Sept. 30.

More education coverage here.