Establishment of Texas WATER Observatory (TWO)

Texas Water Observatory

Led by Dr. Binayak Mohanty, a multi-college (COALS, Geosciences, and Engineering) research team has successfully received a competitive capacity building grant ($1.35 million) from Texas A&M VPR – (Research Development Grant (RDF) for infrastructure development) to design and develop the new Texas Water Observatory (TWO) in the Brazos River corridor.

This grant is among the 2 successful RDF proposals in the 1st round of competition during summer 2015. The primary goal of TWO is to better understand water, carbon, nutrient, and energy cycle from the upstream of Brazos River to the Gulf coast at multiple space and time scales. The implications and applications of the effort to be undertaken at TWO is multi-fold in the coming decade ranging from agriculture, hydrology, water availability, weather, climate, ecosystems, biodiversity, disasters, environmental quality, public health, water-food-energy nexus, and others.

The Texas Water Observatory, first of its kind in Texas, will develop a distributed network of field observatories in Brazos River corridor, for better understanding of the hydrologic flow across various natural and man-made reservoirs in the critical zone (encompassing groundwater, soil water, surface water, and atmospheric water) at various space and time scales. Using many advanced observational platforms and real-time / near-real time sensors, this observatory will be monitoring high frequency data of water stores and fluxes, critical for understanding and modeling the water resources sustainability in the state of Texas and Southern USA.

TWO will be positioned to support high-impact water science that is beyond the existing capabilities at Texas A&M University (or other Texas Universities) and that is highly relevant to societal needs. Among others, this will be a regional resource for better understanding and/or managing agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, biodiversity, disasters, health, energy, and weather/climate. TWO infrastructure will span land uses (cultivation agriculture, range/pasture, forest, coastal marsh), landforms (low-relief erosional uplands to depositional lowlands), and across climatic and geologic gradients of Texas to investigate the sensitivity and resilience of fertile soils and the ecosystems they support.

Besides developing a network of field water observatory infrastructure/capacity for accounting water flow and storage, TWO will facilitate developing a new generation interdisciplinary water professionals (from various Texas A&M colleges) with better understanding and skills for attending to future water challenges of the region. This holistic growth will have great impact on Texas A&M University research enterprise related to water resources, leading to higher federal and state level competitiveness for funding and establishing a center of excellence in the region in the coming times.

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