A Partnership of UConn and Eversource

Eversource Energy Center

 

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Author: National Challenges for Energy Pipelines Seminar

Where: Alumni Center; 

When: Aug 30 at 5:15-6:15pm

Seminar title: “National Challenges for Energy Pipelines”

Speaker: Robert Smith

 

The presentation and discussion will cover the importance of energy pipelines to our country and illustrate that a number of integrity challenges must be addressed in keeping these systems safe.  The presentation will also touch upon how research and development is bringing solutions to the market and about workforce planning opportunities in pipelining.  

 


Robert Smith

 

Robert graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1997 with a BS in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering.  He coordinated and managed the offshore pipeline and human factors research program at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (formerly U.S. Minerals Management Service) from 1997 to 2003. Since 2003 and currently, he is the Senior R&D Program Manager and leads several strategic initiatives for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.  


 

Author: GTI Workshop: Remote Sensing and Reliability of Gas and Electrical Infrastructure Systems

Location: Eversource Energy Center, University of Connecticut UConn-Alumni Center, 2384 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT

Date: Thursday, August 30th, 2018

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the Eversource Energy Center at the University of Connecticut (UConn) are coordinating a workshop to identify the state-of-the-art remote sensing research and technology for solving real-world challenges to natural gas and electrical infrastructure relating to natural forces.
The workshop will discuss the risks to natural gas, electrical, and other utilities’ infrastructure and their resiliency against external natural forces such as earth movement, landslides, floods/flash floods, weather events, wind, and fire. The workshop will explore recent advancements in remote sensing technologies for use in identifying risks to utility infrastructure and opportunities for enhancing their resiliency.

Introduction:

Natural forces damage is one of the main challenges to safe operations of natural gas pipelines and electrical transmission power lines. Reported data by the U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has shown that natural forces are a root cause of significant gas pipeline incidents. Also, data reported from the US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration show significant increase in power line disturbances caused by weather related incidents.

Remote Sensing technologies such as acoustic, radar, laser, and multispectral imagery systems are continuously being introduced on stationary, vehicular, aerial and space-based platforms with potential uses in Right-of-Way (ROW) monitoring and assessment of the risks to natural gas and electrical grid infrastructure due to natural forces. The workshop is intended to identify these technologies and key issues related to their use, identify research gaps and development needs, and ultimately develop a roadmap for their implementation.

The workshop is structured to be both informative and collaborative. Speakers from the U.S. DOE, DOT-PHMSA, academia, utilities, and professional organizations, and industry are invited to present and participate in the development and implementation of remote sensing technologies in risk management of these systems.
The dialogue among the attendees will provide insight on the opportunities and technology gaps and the outcome of the workshop will formulate a roadmap of the development needs of the focus areas identified in the Workshop Agenda.

Scope:

The workshop topics cover various applications of remote sensing technology in the risk management and reliability of natural gas and electrical infrastructure. Examples of topic areas to be discussed in the workshop include, but not limited to, the following:

Remote Sensing Technology Applications:

  • Applications of LiDAR, hyperspectral, multispectral, and thermal imagery from UAV and other airborne platforms in natural gas and electrical infrastructure.
  •  Monitoring of earth movement, landslides/debris flows, and flash flooding for Integrity management and post-event evaluation of infrastructure systems.
  • Safety and reliability of electrical power line systems and its mitigation procedures against the risk of wildfire and other extreme weather events.

Data Management and Risk Assessment:

  • Automated detection algorithms and post-event evaluations of natural force threats.
  • Predictive Analytics using multiple data sources to sort risks of natural forces
  •  Predicting gas leak migration and mitigation from remote sensing measurements

Contact:

Gas Technology Institute:
– Khalid Farrag, Ph.D., P.E. | Khalid.farrag@gastechnology.org | 847-768-0803
Eversource Energy Center, University of Connecticut:
– Jason Parent, Ph.D. | jason.parent@uconn.edu | 860-486-4169

Workshop Agenda:

Date: Thursday, August 30, 2018 – 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Location: Eversource Energy Center, University of Connecticut
UConn-Alumni Center, 2384 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT

Overall Objective: Identify current state of the technology, development gaps, implementation needs, and provide recommendations on remote sensing monitoring of natural force threats.

SESSION 1: Regulatory and Industry Presentations (8:00 AM- 11:30 AM)
 Introduction and Summary of Workshop, GTI-Eversource
 Research Activities and Needs – Regulatory Perspective, U.S. DOT PHMSA
 Remote sensing technologies (LiDAR, hyperspectral, multispectral, thermal imagery, and other) in risk assessment
 Utilities Implementation and Needs
– Natural force threats, monitoring and research needs, SoCal Gas
– Aerial LiDAR data acquisition and use for ground movement detection, PG&E
– Implementation of Remote sensing technologies, Eversource

SESSION 2: Technical Presentations (12:30 PM-3:30 PM), topics:
 Industry Focus Areas, Research and Developments
 Research and Application of remote sensing in ROW monitoring, U.S. DOE, ARPA-E
 Post-event evaluation of earth movement, landslides/debris flows, and flash flooding and other natural force threats
 Risk Analysis and Threat Mitigation of natural gas transmission systems and their threat-mitigation procedures.
 Automated detection algorithms and post-event evaluations of natural force threats,
 Electrical power lines risk assessment against extreme weather conditions

SESSION 3: Group Discussion: Developments and Applications Road Map (3:45 PM– 5:00 PM)
[Adjourn]

 

All this information can be found in a pdf here. 

Author: Harnessing Data Analytics to Model Solar Energy Power Outputs

Fig. 1 Illustration of some results in this project. (a) Comparison results of the Silhouette values for different k in February. (b) Absolute values of correlation coefficients in January and meteorological weights in different months. (c) Comparison results of the clustering for different k in February. (d) Comparison results of the return levels and 95% error bounds for different k in February.

 

Contact Zefan Tang for additional information.

Extreme Photovoltaic Power Analytics (EPVA), a method to obtain high-fidelity information for estimating extreme power output, is Zefan Tang’s response to the dire need to enhance the power distribution infrastructure in the United States. Under the supervision of Professor Peng Zhang at ECE-UConn, PhD Student Tang is designing this powerful tool to provide the forecasting of extreme power output essential to the real-time integration of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Connecticut’s power grid.

As PVs have increased in popularity in the state, Tang has recognized the great importance of analyzing the impact of these energy sources on the grid. His method first automatically divides utility service territories into subcategories with similar behaviors of peak power to compute a probabilistic estimate of PV output in any region and at any time interval.

The biggest challenge Tang has encountered in developing EPVA is the lack of research associated with his project. According to the literature, multiple years of data are needed to support estimations of PV output in specific regions.  Since most solar panels in Connecticut are newly installed, however, the data are scarce. Another challenge is the influence of weather on PV output. Environmental conditions such as cloud cover make it difficult to analyze the power output for any particular space and time interval.

As Tang finds ways to overcome these challenges and advance the development of EPVA, the results and insights obtained through his method will offer valuable resources to both research communities and the power industry. He has, to date, finished an algorithm for the regional frequency analysis and produced results for the distribution of extreme power. He has also built software for easily using this tool and sent it to Eversource managers, who were pleased with the results. Tang’s next step is to submit his work for publication in a top journal, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems.

Author: Insights into Cyber Security Investments

In today’s interconnected world, data breaches affect hundreds of millions of U.S. customers of banks and services yearly. Hacking scandals at major institutions make news because of the headaches they cause for both business stakeholders and their customers, and demand is growing for data protection technologies. To address the challenge of protecting the energy infrastructure from hacking, Paul Borochin, assistant professor in the School of Business at the University of Connecticut, is collaborating with the Eversource Energy Center to develop economic measures of the value of cyber security and to investigate the investment values of the Eversource Energy Resiliency Initiatives in Connecticut.

Investment in cybersecurity is a key to electric grid resilience, security, and economic prosperity. Many options are available for protecting against unauthorized access to data in a system, and third parties sell a variety of both existing and customized products. No clear standard has yet been set, however, for how much customers need to invest in the protection. This is where Professor Borochin’s analysis comes in. By measuring the expected benefit of protections against its cost, a business can invest in just enough cyber security to cover the bulk of its expected risks, thus minimizing the cost that is passed along to customers.

Botnet diagram showing a distributed denial-of-service cyber-attack (Source: Wikipedia).

The calculation of risk is the main consideration when determining the expected value of investments made by Eversource Energy, and it involves quantifying the likelihoods of losses and exposures. An essential part of Professor Borochin’s work is mapping areas within the power grid in Connecticut that might be vulnerable to hacking to help Eversource stakeholders design optimal cost–benefit strategies.

According to Professor Borochin, “The challenge we face as economists concerned with capital budgeting is that, while we can attach dollar figures to the benefit of investment, those figures are never going to be completely certain. The point of the techniques we bring to bear, such as the real options framework that models the ability to update investment decisions, is to try to get an estimate specifically in the presence of uncertainty. You end up with a dollar figure, plus or minus some error.” Professor Borochin incorporates this uncertainty when conducting his analysis. 

In support of these economic evaluations, Professor Borochin is collaborating with Eversource Energy Center electrical engineers who are creating a software emulation of the Connecticut power grid to test cyber security prevention methods and assess their economic consequences.  This research is expected to help protect the Connecticut power grid from cyberattacks originating both at home and abroad.

 

Paul Borochin received his PhD in finance from the Fuqua School at Duke University and his BS in finance and statistics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Besides cyber security investments, Professor Borochin’s research interests include institutional ownership, applications of asset pricing theory, corporate governance, information asymmetry, and corporate events and policies.

Author: Workshop: Grid Modernization & Distributed Energy Resources


Location: University of Connecticut, Alumni House, Great Hall, 2384 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT 06269

Date: June 14-15, 2018

Eversource Workshop Official Announcement


The Eversource Energy Center at the University of Connecticut (UConn) is hosting a workshop aimed at identifying key challenges and potential solutions related to the modernization of electric grid. The focus will be on enhancing stability and resiliency of the grid in an environment of increasing penetration of intermittent renewables and other Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) as well as other potentially disruptive factors such as climate, extreme weather events and the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

Image Source: https://ilbusinessdaily.com/stories/511284886-illinois-lauded-on-national-level-for-grid-modernization

The workshop will explore possible solutions by considering the complex interdependencies of technology, economics, regulation and energy demand. Also considered will be the relationship between natural gas and the electric grid. Included will be a discussion of Virtual Power Plants (VPPs), where the utility controls and synchronizes multiple DER technologies such as renewable power generation sources (PV, hydropower and wind), micro Combined Heat and Electricity (mCHE) devices, pump-hydro, and battery storage. The workshop will also consider the dynamics of energy demand and supply, and discuss implications of the above technological solutions under alternate futures and extreme weather and security based outage events.

The workshop outcome will be a report summarizing research gaps and development needs, and ultimately a roadmap for their implementation.

 

Topics:

Workshop Session I – Identifying the challenges

In this session we will identify and explore the challenges electric utilities have maintaining stability and enhancing resiliency in response to intermittent renewables, peak loads and ramp-up effects, and other stresses on the grid caused by load profiles, electric vehicles, climate, and other factors.
We will also discuss how these conditions are expected to change over time, and the potential impact of these changes on the grid.

Workshop Session II – Identifying the technologies

In this session we will begin by identifying the current state of technology for addressing these challenges, and then explore the leading technologies that can address these challenges going forward.
The focus of the discussion will be to understand the costs and risks associated with the widespread deployment of these technologies, including social acceptance and the capacity to include Low- and Medium-Income consumers in the adaptation of DER solutions. Included in the discussion will be an overview of different DER-based solutions, including mCHE, pump-hydro, and batteries, and what role a dispatchable network of such technologies could play in addressing the challenges. A few case studies will be presented.

Workshop Session III – Potential solutions and gaps

Session III will focus on identifying potential solutions, and where there are gaps in research or methodologies for understanding and evaluating them. With the inherent complexity and interdependency of the various technologies, economics, and regulations that make up the electric grid, as well as the relationship between the electric grid and natural gas, robust methodologies are essential for finding optimized solutions.

This session will include a discussion of a virtual power plant (VPP) approach, where the utility controls and synchronizes multiple distributed energy resource (DER) technologies, as well as the Distributed Generation (DG) models currently being used in Europe and how similar models might apply here.
By identifying the gaps in research and methodologies for utilities to evaluate potential solutions, we will be able to ultimately develop a roadmap for their implementation.

Target Attendees:
Electric and Natural Gas Utility managers and planners.
• Professionals in the energy industry, including Energy Project Developers and VPP software providers.
• Utility Regulators.
• Academics interested in the technological, economic, regulatory, and social challenges of energy and energy distribution.

Agenda:

Day 1 (Thursday, June 14th)

11:30 – 12:00 Registration
12:00 – 12:15 Opening Session – Keynote Speaker [Jennifer Schilling, Grid Modernization Director, Eversource Energy]
12:15 – 1:15 Luncheon and Keynote Speaker [Katie Dykes, Chair, CT PURA]

1:15 – 2:30 Workshop Session I – Identifying the challenges
2:30 – 2:45 Break
2:45 – 3:15 Summary I – Challenges

3:15 – 3:35 Keynote speaker [Walter Rojowsky, Manager, Distributed Grid Advisory Team, ICF International]  
3:35 – 3:55 Keynote speaker [Dan Bradley, Managing Director, Navigant]

3:55 – 5:15 Workshop Session II – Identifying the technologies
5:15 – 5:30 Break
5:30 – 6:00 Summary II – Technologies

6:00 – 7:00 Social

7:00 – 9:00 Dinner / Keynote Speaker [David Owens, Retired Executive Vice President, Edison Electric Institute]

 

Day 2 (Friday, June 15th)

8:00 – 8:20 Breakfast/ Opening Session – Keynote Speaker [Watson Collins, Technical Executive, EPRI]
8:20 – 8:40 Keynote speaker [Ray Samuels, Senior Vice President,  DBS Power & Energy]
8:40 – 9:00 Keynote speaker [Jeff Nehr – Vice President, Production & Business Development, Peoples Gas]

9:00 – 10:30 Workshop Session III – Potential solutions and gaps
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 11:15 Summary III – Potential solutions and gaps

11:15 – 11:30 Closing remarks & Next Steps
11:30 – 14:00 Steering team meeting & Lunch

 

Workshop format:

Workshops will be comprised of roundtable discussion groups of 8-10 attendees and a coordinator who will introduce the topic and facilitate the discussion. After each session, the coordinators from each group will summarize the key points and present them to everyone.

Contact:
Prof. Emmanouil Anagnostou | manos@uconn.edu | 860-486-6806
Eversource Energy Center, University of Connecticut

 

Author: World-Renowned Meteorologist Urges Engineers to Include the Human Factor in Climate Change Solutions

Scientists and engineers must take greater account of human perspectives in their projections if society is to avoid collapse from climate change, a prominent meteorologist and professor of atmospheric and oceanic science recently told UConn engineering students and faculty.

The April 13 visit of the University of Maryland’s Distinguished Professor Eugenia Kalnay was co-sponsored by the Eversource Energy Center (EEC) and the Environmental Engineering Program (ENVE) to coincide with UConn’s Metanoia, a university-wide initiative on the environment for Spring 2018. Kalnay, who in 1971 was the first woman to receive a doctorate in meteorology from MIT, today serves on the Scientific Advisory Board to the United Nations and is a recipient of the International Meteorological Organization Prize (2009), among other important honors in her field. Widely regarded as a weather science pioneer, Kalnay is one of the originators of HANDY (Human and Nature Dynamics), a model representing the interaction of human dynamics and the environment that prompted controversy when first published in 2014.

In an informal discussion with undergraduate students in the ENVE’s Environmental Modeling class, Kalnay cited the unsustainable rate at which human population is growing, which will soon result in consumption exceeding what natural resources can produce. This kind of demographic explosion has led to repeated collapses of societies throughout history, Kalnay said, and the Earth’s climate and environment are now more sensitive to human decisions and policies than in the past, when populations were much smaller relative to the available resources.

In a later round table discussion and a seminar entitled “Modeling Sustainability: Need to Couple Earth and Human Systems Models,” Kalnay explored with EEC, ENVE and Atmospheric Science Group (ASG) faculty and graduate students the chronological advances in modeling, from the purely atmospheric to the fully coupled multicomponent Earth system models, that form the scientific basis on which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) generates climate change scenarios. Despite being so comprehensive, the models are not yet fully coupled with human models, Kalnay said, which could have large impacts on climate projections.

The seminar ended on an optimistic note, as Kalnay presented possible future scenarios in which intelligent geoengineering experiments are carried out to harness solar and wind energy to completely replace fossil fuels. In the Sahara Desert, she suggested, such efforts could potentially increase vegetation and reverse the desertification trend toward a greener region in the tropics. Estimates from her team’s model indicate this is feasible, she said.

Author: Voices from the ground: Exploring Wood Recovery Opportunities

 

More Information Can Be Found on the Stormwise Site

Contact Danielle Kloster and Anita Morzillo for additional resources or information.

 

In traditional tree cutting routines, logs are removed and sent to waste management. Ideally, a wood recovery initiative would sell the logs to wood companies with sufficient revenue to pay for the costs of cutting and send the remainder revenue back to the towns for the purposes of tree planting. The success of this business model depends on many factors including costs of transport from the cutting area to the wood companies, the fraction of wood that the homeowners want to keep and the quality of the wood. How these different factors play out in the Eversource Energy service territory in Connecticut is being studied by Danielle Kloster, a Ph.D. student in Natural Resources and the Environment at UConn and her partners in the Stormwise project.

The wood recovery pilot program was launched in collaboration with United Illuminating and Eversource Energy and is a joint effort with the Stormwise’s vegetation management team. Its initial launch took place within the two towns of North Haven and Haddam. In the fall of 2014, the vegetation management teams were finding that as the tree removal teams were doing extensive removals, they were cutting down a significant amount of trees that could be used for a higher purpose. There was, then, an initial discussion on the startup of pilot programs, in which Kloster chose to focus her part on how the tree crews would be affected by its implementation.

Kloster began her research by structuring the program based around ideas in which she saw to be most important to the pilot program’s success: how it impacted the workers’ daily flow, an understanding of normal operations, and overall opinions from the ground. Thus, Kloster conducted a series of interviews with tree crews in the past two years, both involved and uninvolved with the pilot program.

The biggest challenge with any qualitative research is that who you are as an interviewer may impact the results. Kloster focused largely on gathering unbiased answers by making the tree crews aware that this process was an evaluation for the pilot program and that Kloster herself had no effect on the programs’ continuation. The goal was for the tree crews to be objective in their assessments.

The initial round of interviews helped in shaping the program moving forward. When the pilot program first launched, Eversource was training crews to remove as many logs as possible out of the trees. This systematic approach turned out to be impractical as it arose a set of safety and time concerns. This feedback, gathered by Kloster, was then used to shape the program’s strategy to cutting down the rest of the tree until the butt log, the trunk of the tree closest to the ground. This allowed safety to be the first focus and dramatically simplified the process to fit much more smoothly into the workflow.

The biggest idea that Kloster got out of her research was the importance of talking to forces on the ground. She found that individuals were genuinely excited about the program. A lot of the tree crews were supportive because they felt that their feedback was being taken into consideration and they were given the opportunity to give back to the community.

Author: Administrative Services Assistant 3 (UCP 4)

The Eversource Energy Center is seeking applicants for the position of Administrative Services Assistant 3, UCP 4. This is a 12-month, full-time appointment. The successful candidate will serve as a point of contact for the Eversource Energy Center and will perform administrative and financial functions for the Center with funding from private, state, federal grant and contract sources.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Maintains and monitors Center and grant budgets; review transactions for accuracy, completeness and compliance with regulations, policies and procedures; monitors and approves expenditures; processes fiscal paperwork.
  • Assist faculty Principal Investigators (PI) for grant post award to monitor budgets and ensure compliance with regulations and policies at the University, state and federal levels as well as the requirements of the Sponsored Programs Services (SPS) and funding agencies.
  • Responsible for making all necessary arrangements for meetings, conferences and travel; arranges for and implements, as directed, conferences, seminars, committee meetings, assisting as required.
  • Record encumbrances and expenditures to process all necessary paperwork, including payroll records, purchasing, disbursements, travel (pre and post trip), following up to resolve problems as they arise.
  • Prepares regular financial statements on the condition of the Center and producing timely and accurate financial information, including budget projections and analysis.
  • Performs office management duties; directs the workflow and supervises the processing of administrative and personnel paperwork; reviews paperwork for accuracy and adherence to policies and procedures.
  • Assists director, manager and others in resolving budget and other business problems related to the Center operations.
  • Perform related duties as required, including but not limited to the following: take and transcribe all minutes for Center-related meetings; initiate special payroll authorizations (SPAR), J1 and H1B visa applications; compose offer letters and payroll authorizations for individuals tied to Center accounts; process paperwork for unit’s financial transactions, including Procard purchases; and place orders with vendors and follow up to assure timely delivery.
  • Schedules appointments and meetings for director.
  • Review administrative and internal operation procedures to implement operations and/or fiscal policies.
  • Transmits authoritative information and serves as a resource to students and others regarding fiscal and administrative policies and procedures governing the Center.
  • Independently composes, prepares and/or edits standard correspondence and reports containing information that requires thorough knowledge of policies, procedures and data sources.
  • May represent director to other University offices, the public or outside organizations to gather or transmit information that affects operations of the Center.
  • As needed or assigned, may be responsible for special short term or ongoing projects that require planning, coordination and supervision.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

  1. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience including 4-8 years’ experience in a progressively responsible administrative position.
  2. Demonstrated knowledge of fiscal and/or accounting functions of an organization with multiple fund sources
  3. Experience with electronic financial systems and spreadsheets
  4. Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work independently and effectively with staff and administrators
  5. Excellent time management and organizational skills; demonstrated accuracy and attention to detail
  6. Ability to contribute and participate as a team member;

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

  1. Knowledge of KFS, Infoed, or Microsoft Office products
  2. Previous experience in a university or college setting dealing with fiscal functions
  3. Experience working effectively and efficiently with multiple departments
  4. Demonstrated ability to clearly communicate both verbally and in writing.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

This is a permanent full-time position.  Salary will be commensurate with training and experience.

TO APPLY

Interested applicants, please upload a cover letter, resume and contact information for three professional references via UConn Jobs, www.jobs.uconn.edu, Staff Positions.  Employment of the successful candidate will be contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check. (Search #2018482)

 

This job posting is scheduled to be removed at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 11, 2018.

 

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp .

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

 

 

Author: How Do Precipitation Error Characteristics Affect The Simulation of Streamflow

The hydrologic application of precipitation estimation from remote sensing is a promising way to assess streamflow variability and its downstream impact for ungauged basins. Compared to conventional ground-based observational networks (i.e., rain gauge, meteorology station, weather radar), satellite remote sensing is uninhibited by terrain and can provide consistent precipitation measurement at fine space-time resolution (as fine as 0.04°/half-hourly). This is particularly meaningful for catchments characterized by complex terrain that are often susceptible to hydrometeorological hazards (e.g., flood, debris flow, landslides) induced by heavy precipitation and its interaction with catchment geomorphic characteristics.

Current satellite precipitation retrieval algorithms are based on the high-spatiotemporal-resolution observations in the visible–infrared (VIS–IR) spectrum from geostationary (GEO) satellites and the active and passive microwave (MW) sensors deployed on low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) satellites. The VIS–IR techniques have high sampling frequency (15-min/3–4-km, 1-km VIS) but retrieve precipitation indirectly based on cloud-top brightness temperatures. On the other hand, PMW techniques physically link the signal received by the satellite sensors to the size and phase of the hydrometeors present within the observed atmospheric column, but uncertainties arise from their low observational frequency and large sensor field-of-view areas.

It is deemed that precipitation retrievals from either VIS–IR or MW, or the combination of both sensors, suffers from noticeable errors compared to ground-based measurements. A common practice to improve the consistency of remote sensing-based product to ground-based measurements is to merge these two sources. But this is limited by the available number of reliable ground-based networks, which are scarce in some regions of the globe. Thus, to ensure meaningful hydrologic simulations by incorporating satellite remote sensing precipitation with the hydrologic model, it is necessary to understand the products’ error structure and their propagation characteristics in hydrologic simulations.

We set up a hydrologic model for three nested catchments (Swift, Fishing and Tar) of the Tar river basin in North Carolina, USA, with a drainage area of 426 km2, 1374 km2 and 2406 km2, respectively. 160 rainfall-runoff events over the catchments from 2003–2010 were selected as the simulation targets. Eleven quasi-global satellite precipitation products were evaluated with respect to a radar- and gauge-based product in terms of their accuracy in capturing the intensity of event rainfall and runoff.

The eleven satellite precipitation products come from four algorithms. The first two products are from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA). A near-real-time (Trt) and a gauge-adjusted version (Tg) of TMPA were used in the study. These 3-hourly products are at 0.25 °spatial resolution.

The Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN) product is another near-real-time product (Prt) considered in the study. A high-resolution version (HPrt) and a gauge-adjusted version of the near-real-time PERSIANN (Pg) were also considered. Prt and Pg are in 0.25°/3-hourly resolution, while the HPrt is 0.04°/hourly.

Also used were the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center’s morphing technique (CMORPH) product available at resolutions of 0.25°/3-hourly and 0.072°/half-hourly, abbreviated as Crt and HCrt, respectively. Gauge-corrected versions of these two products, denoted as Cg and HCg, were also included.

Finally, we included the Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation’s (GSMaP) version 5 Microwave-IR Combined product for our analysis. Similarly, a near-real-time version (Grt) and its gauge-adjusted counterpart (Gg), were used. The two products are hourly and at 0.1° resolution.

The distributions of mean relative error in event rainfall intensity for all events are demonstrated by boxplot in Figure 1. The figure shows that most of the satellite precipitation products, especially the near-real-time ones, tend to underestimate the rainfall intensity. The gauge-adjusted and higher resolution counterparts show medians of error much closer to zero for all the basins. Product-wise, the high-resolution gauge-adjusted CMORPH outperforms the others.

Mean relative error in event runoff intensity for all events are shown in Figure 2. The satellite product–driven flow simulations show underestimation as to the intensity. Similarly, the gauge-adjusted and high-resolution products are characterized by medians closer to zero than the corresponding near-real-time ones. The medians of error derived from the gauge-adjusted TMPA and high-resolution CMORPH outperform the others in most of the occasions.

To sum up, we found that the satellite precipitation products underestimated the intensity of rainfall and runoff of the events examined in this study. The gauge-adjusted and high-resolution products yielded lower error magnitudes than the corresponding near-real-time and coarse resolution counterparts. This indicates the benefit of higher resolution and the usefulness of merging with ground-based observations.

These findings are described in the article entitled Decomposing the satellite precipitation error propagation through the rainfall-runoff processes, recently published in the journal Advances in Water Resources. This work was led by Yiwen Mei, Emmanouil N. Anagnostou, Xinyi Shen and Efthymios I. Nikolopoulos from the University of Connecticut.

Author: Predicting Flood Hazards in Post-Fire Areas of Southern California

Photo by Matt Udkow/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP; Jan.10, 2017

Led by Professor Efthymios Nikolopoulos, researchers at the Eversource Energy Center are working on an early warning system that can predict when and where devastating flash flood events will take place.

In the wake of the recent wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes and incinerated hundreds of thousands of acres in Southern California, the region is being laid waste once again, this time by deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara County that have killed at least 17 people to date and left dozens unaccounted for. Managers and researchers are now wondering what could have been done to prevent the loss of lives, and how we can prepare for more of these recurring events in the region.

The fires, which buried rural areas under massive amounts of burned debris, have increased the risk of flooding by drastically altering landscape characteristics, such as vegetation and soil properties. These changes have set the stage for a cascade of flash floods, landslides, and debris flows, triggered by heavy rainfall in the burned areas.

According to Professor Nikolopoulos, this is the main mechanism leading to the deadly mudslides we are observing in Southern California. At the American Geophysical Union’s annual conference last December in New Orleans, Professor Nikolopoulos and his team presented proof-of-concept of their system, based on data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey over the western United States. The team is now collecting high-resolution weather forecasts from the National Center for Atmospheric Research to demonstrate their predictive framework to the devastating Santa Barbara County, California, post-fire landslide event. Results will be reported to government agencies and stakeholders.

Eversource Energy Center | Innovation Partnership Building: 159 Discovery Drive, Unit 5276, Storrs, CT 06269-5276 | E-Mail: eversourceenergycenter@uconn.edu