AGH UST scientists work on improving hydrological models and forecasts

Sustainable management of water resources is one of the most important challenges of sustainable development. Researchers from  AGH UST together with scientists from Greece, Finland, Austria, and Switzerland are going to study water circulation in river watersheds. The issue is related to complex interactions between physical and biological processes. Studying it will contribute to an improvement in using water resources on a local and global scale. Research will be carried out within the framework of the project WATERLINE – New solutions in the field of the assimilation and exchange of data for the purpose of improving hydrological models and forecasts. 

Contemporary measurements and hydrological data are based on innovative tools that take advantage of the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence and computational methods, such as parallel computing and cloud computing, which enable storing and processing large amounts of data (big data). An addition to these techniques can be the so-called “citizen hydrology”. It takes advantage of smartphones, which by means of built-in cameras, GPS receivers, and other sensors deliver images over the Internet. The development of information and communication technologies facilitates the exchange of opinions and increases social environmental awareness, and in this way, provides better access to data and information about extreme hydrological phenomena and events. 

The WATERLINE project combines classical measurement methods used in hydrological modelling with remote sensing methods as well as information and communication technologies. Information from many sources (remote sensing, archive data, ground measurements, crowdsourcing observations) will be used to improve hydrological models and their capabilities of making hydrological forecasts. Enhancing computer performance will make it possible to obtain short-term forecasts almost in real time and with high space resolution. In this way, an increasing demand for access to observation results and hydrological forecasts will be satisfied. 

A result of work carried out by the WATERLINE research team will be network applications in the form of maps, charts, and indicators using augmented and virtual reality. They will be available to, for example, hydrologists and the representatives of institutions being in charge of water resource management. Moreover, typical users of crowdsourcing applications, which use location data, will be able to supply information about hydrological events and their extent. It will become an additional source of data for models and forecasts. Individual user groups, for example, farmers and the agricultural sector, institutions dealing with water resource management, fire brigades, tourism operators, and schoolchildren will be able to participate actively in the development of network interfaces, thus increasing their usability. 

On the Polish side, the WATERLINE project is headed by Doctor Przemysław Wachniew of the Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science. Members of the Polish research team are the following AGH UST scientists: professor Bartosz Baliś and professor Wojciech Turek of the Faculty of Computer Science, Electronics and Telecommunications, professor Mirosław Zimnoch and Radosław Szostak, MSc, of the Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science, and Doctor Anna Żurek of the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection. A member of the Polish team is also professor Adam Szymkiewicz of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Gdańsk University of Technology. 

The project is also participated in by researchers from the Democritus University of Thrace (Greece), the University of Oulu (Finland), the Vienna University of Technology (Austria), and the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland). The coordinator of the entire project is Doctor Alexandra Gemitzi of the Democritus University of Thrace. 

The WATERLINE partners will support work carried out in research watersheds located in respective countries and disseminate the findings of the project among its stakeholders. The project started on 1st March 2021 and will last until February 2024. 

WATERLINE obtained a grant in the amount of 1,601,404.29 euro in the competition CHIST-ERA Call 2019, organised within the European Union Framework Programme HORIZON 2020. The amount of 249,728.69 euro has been allocated to AGH UST. 

Funding in the competition CHIST-ERA Call 2019 could be applied for by international consortia composed of at least three research teams from at least three countries taking part in the competition. The head of the Polish team was required to have at least doctor’s degree. Funds obtained in the competition could be allocated for the remuneration of a research team, remuneration and scholarships for students and doctoral students, purchasing or producing scientific research equipment, as well as covering other expenses necessary for completing the research project. A member of the consortium financing CHIST-ERA projects is the National Science Centre. 

The CHIST-ERA Call 2019 competition received 162 international research applications, of which funding was granted to 17 projects. Four of them will be participated in by research teams from Poland.