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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Science and Engineering
Department of Civil Engineering
St. Anthony Falls Laboratory

PI: Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Fellow

Modeling Variability in the Earth System: From Rainfall, to River Networks, to Landscape Processes

Understanding and quantifying the space-time variability of precipitation at local to global scales is essential for improving hydrologic predictions, parameterizing land-atmosphere interactions, and interpreting the effects of climate change on the redistribution of atmospheric and land surface fluxes. Datasets of multi-sensor rainfall observations are becoming richer and larger as a result of existing and planned precipitation satellite missions, thus increasing the need to develop robust methodologies for taking full advantage of these data sets for scientific and operational studies. These researchers are working on developing multi-sensor merging techniques to optimally combine different sources (space-borne passive and active microwave sensors, ground- based radars and point gauges) of precipitation at various resolutions. They are also analyzing different sources of historical precipitation data (satellite, rain gauges, ground-based radar) to characterize multi-scale measurement error across the contiguous U.S. As these sources of information are provided as very large size images, this often requires solving a complex and computationally intensive nonlinear optimization problem for multi-dimensional datasets. The same is true for geomorphologic feature extraction (e.g., river networks, channel morphology, landslide scars, etc.) from high-resolution topography provided by laser altimetry data (LiDAR) at sub-meter scale resolutions. Therefore, having access to powerful computational resources and parallel computational capacity is essential for efficient implementation of this research.

Group Members

Mohammad Ebtehaj, Graduate Student
Naga Vamsi K. Ganti, Graduate Student
Paola Passalaqua, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
Guillermo Sapiro, Faculty Collaborator
Arvind Kumar Singh, Graduate Student
Stafano Zanardo, Research Associate