The Virtual Watershed

...a "catchment" for software tools developed through close collaboration between watershed scientists and software developers.


Together, we scientists and developers are answering new questions that our watershed scientists study today.


We are working to collect these tools to form the foundation for the next generation of hydrological data management and modeling.


Read more about us below

Watersheds and projects


Valles Caldera and Jemez River Canyon

New Mexico: UNM and NM Tech

This group is working on integrating the D-FLOW model, which predicts the destructive force of flooding, with the CASiMiR model, which predicts ecological succession based on the destructive force of flooding. Angela Gregory is leading the D-FLOW modeling effort, Sarah Miller is leading the CASiMiR modeling effort, and Matt Turner is building adaptors between CASiMiR running on Sarah's desktop and D-FLOW run by Angela on the University of New Mexico's Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) resources.

Dan Cadol's research group at NM Tech is building an open-source, multi-platform version of the CASiMiR model, which is now limited to interacting with its user interface on Windows. This will allow us to offer the model through the REST API and web app, or a Python API.

Lehman Creek

Nevada: UNR and UNLV

UNLV PhD student Chao Chen, under the direction of Sajjad Ahmad, is driving development of interactive PRMS modeling software where the user can interactively or programmatically manipulate PRMS parameterizations. This will allow PRMS modellers to discover the best parameterizations for their watershed.

Across the state at the University of Nevada, Reno, Dr. Sergiu Dalescu's students Lisa Palathingal and Moinul Hossain, with Dr. Fred Harris' students Chase Carthen and Nolan Burfield, with the help of Dr. John Anderson and his research group, and John Erickson and the team at EDAC, are all working to make Ahmad and Chao's vision a reality.

Dry Creek and Reynolds Creek

Idaho: ISU, BSU, and UI

Dr. Sarah Godsey and her student Clarissa Enslin at ISU are developing new QA/QC'd climate data from the Reynolds Mountain East as well as guiding and testing the development of an online modeling system and testing the use of a novel gridding tool.

That gridding tool is being developed by their colleagues at ISU under the guidance of Dr. Donna Delparte. Her current student, Tucker Chapman, is now the lead developer on the tool. He continues work started by Dr. Delparte's former Masters student, Joel Johansen. It currently provides statistically-gridded Reynold's Mountain climate data, which is not only a useful scientific tool, it's an exceptional form of compression: with only a few hundred megabytes of climate data, they could provide terabytes of gridded data! The statistical gridding tool is available via either a REST or Python API.

Virtual Watershed software and web portal

Our software tools focus on a few primary goals:

  1. Modernize and simplify the use of older hydrological modeling software
  2. Build visualization tools that researchers can use to hone parameterizations and students can use to understand hydrological models
  3. Provide a coherent set of tools to use or couple models within the Virtual Watershed ecosystem, as well as establish standards for integrating new models into the Virtual Watershed.


To this end, we have developed this web portal where you can search for data shared by Virtual Watershed researchers, use models either through the web interface or on your own computer, or share your data to make it available to the world.

Please also see our Virtual Watershed GitHub Organization, our Tri-State EPSCoR GitHub Organization, or, coming soon, we'll have documentation for all the various API's that we are offering. Under the Virtual Watershed organization, you can find the Virtual Watershed Python Adaptors and the code for this page, the Virtual Watershed web app.

The other two important, publically-available GitHub repositories are Lisa Palathingal's PRMS Adaptors and Moinul Hossain's Modeling Service


Who we are

10 Watershed scientists working with 12 Software developers across 4 watersheds in 3 states:

Watershed scientists

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Dr. James McNamara

Institute: Boise State University

Department: Geosciences

Role: Watershed Sciences Lead

Dr. James McNamara’s Watershed Processes Research Group seeks to improve understanding and prediction of water, solute, and sediment movement and storage in watersheds. They investigate relationships between hydrological, geomorphological and ecological processes using integrated observation and simulation approaches. Dr. McNamara directs the scientific and educational mission of the Virtual Watershed, and provided the data from his excellently-instrumented Dry Creek Experimental Watershed for the first prototypes of the Virtual Watershed.

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Dr. Sarah Godsey

Institute: Idaho State University

Department: Geosciences

Role: Professor

Dr. Sarah Godsey is leading the effort along with her graduate student Clarissa Enslin to use Virtual Watershed products in modeling snow hydrology in the well-instumented Reynolds Creek watersheds in collaboration with colleagues at the ARS and Boise State.

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Clarissa Enslin

Institute: Idaho State University

Department: Geosciences

Role: Masters Student

Clarissa is currently modeling the energy-and mass balance as well as various snow conditions in the rain-to-snow transition zone. Prior work to modeling involved extensive QA/QC procedures on hydrometerological data to drive the snow model iSNOBAL.

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Dr. Daniel Cadol

Institute: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Department: Earth & Environmental Sciences

Role: Professor

Dr. Daniel Cadol's research typically combines extensive fieldwork with modeling efforts, either numerical simulations or flume models, and I am always looking for students who share both a love of the outdoors and a disposition toward unraveling the complex physical processes that shape the land. In the Virtual Watershed project, Dr. Cadol is helping direct the development of CASiMiR/D-FLOW coupling including using his lab resources to develop an open-source, multi-platform version of CASiMiR for inclusion in the Virtual Watershed modeling REST API.

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Sarah Miller

Institute: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Department: Earth and Environmental Science

Role: PhD Student

Sarah Miller has 18 years of experience in stream and watershed management and research, including 12 years as a Research Scientist for the City of New York Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) and six years as a Research Ecologist for the U.S Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). With the Virtual Watershed project, she is a vocal supporter of the mission of the project to improve the modeling and data management experience of hydrologists. Specifically, she is helping develop and test adaptors for the CASiMiR model in the CASiMiR/D-FLOW coupling project.

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Michael Wine

Institute: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Department: Earth & Environmental Sciences

Role: PhD Student

Michael's research interests include integrating GIS, remote sensing, and three-dimensional surface water groundwater modeling to better quantify the hydrologic cycle of mountainous areas in the desert southwest, especially under the influence of anthropogenic climate change.

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Dr. Sajjad Ahmad

Institute: University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Role: Professor

Sajjad Ahmad's work is focused on application of systems approach to understand and manage complex water and environmental systems. Goal is to provide decision support to policy makers for sustainable management of resources. He advises Chao Chen's work using PRMS and directing the scientific reason for integrating PRMS into the Virtual Watershed ecosystem.

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Chao Chen

Institute: University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Role: PhD Student

Chao is designing a system that will allow a user to modify PRMS parameters and run multiple PRMS scenarios for use in her research. The CI-Data and -Vis teams are building a system according to her designs.

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Dr. Mark Stone

Institute: University of New Mexico

Department: Civil Engineering

Role: Professor

At UNM, Mark Stone's team is focused on improving the balance between human society and the natural environment through research, teaching and service. Our research is focused on the interfaces between water resources engineering, aquatic ecology, fluvial geomorphology, and the social sciences. For the WC-WAVE project, Dr. Stone advises Angela Gregory who is working with Sarah Miller and her advisor Dan Cadol to use virtual watershed infrastructure to couple D-FLOW to CASiMiR.

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Angela Gregory

Institute: University of New Mexico

Department: Civil Engineering

Role: PhD Student

Angela leads the development of D-FLOW for coupling with the CASiMiR model. She is interested in informing water resource management decisions through hydraulic modeling, hydrologic modeling, statistical applications and applied field sciences. My areas of interest include wildfire impacts on hydrologic processes, forest hydrology, ecohydrology, fluvial geomorphology, and sediment transport.

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Dr. Scott Tyler

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Dept. of Geological Sciences and Engineering

Role: Professor

Dr. Tyler’s areas of research span a wide range of hydrology and environmental fluid dynamics. In the past few years, Tyler’s research has included the use of fiber-optic sensing systems, particularly Raman backscatter distributed temperature sensing (DTS) and operate the National Science Foundation supported “Centers for Transformative Environmental Monitoring Programs” or CTEMPs; making DTS systems and training available to our hydrologic and earth science community. Dr. Tyler is focusing on data assimilation into the Virtual Watershed and assisting in the development of components for the Community Land Model (CLM).

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John Volk

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Dept. of Geological Sciences and Engineering

Role: PhD Student

John has applied PRMS to the Lehman and Baker creek watersheds in the Great Basin to study the impacts of projected climate change on watershed response. Current research involves using PRMS to understand how the interplay between ecology, climate, and elevation controls energy and water partitioning amongst different eco-climatic zones (alpine, subalpine, mixed conifer, and pinyon-juniper woodland) within the two snow dominated watersheds. John is developing a Python library for PRMS that includes tools for data management, analysis, and visualization. Research interests include watershed hydrology, evaluation and intercomparison of hydrologic models, groundwater-surface water interactions, earth system modeling, and scientific programming.


Software developers

Dr. Karl Benedict

Institute: University of New Mexico

Department: University of New Mexico University Libraries

Role: CI-Data Lead

In his role as the Director of Research Data Services he works with his team to support effective research data management by researchers at UNM through instruction, training, consultation, and infrastructure support. His current research foci include the development of open standards-based interoperable data management workflows and infrastructure in support of diverse research projects and streamlining the integration of research data products into long-term preservation systems to maximize the ongoing value of those data beyond the projects in which they are collected or generated. Karl brings this work ethic to drive the Virtual Watershed to be a sustainable set of tools to capture watershed scientists modeling workflows and simplify data management.

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Dr. Fred Harris

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: CI-Vis Lead

Dr. Fred Harris is the lead professor overseeing and guiding the development of visualization systems and adaptors for those visualization systems. Founded in 1996, Dr. Harris' High Performance Computation and Visualization Laboratory performs research in the areas of bioinformatics, parallel computing, graphics, and the use of virtual reality to solve real-world problems.

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Dr. Lucas Sheneman

Institute: University of Idaho

Department: Northwest Knowledge Network (NKN)

Role: CI-Data Leadership Team

Luke brings his expertise in networks, storage, and programming to the CI-Data leadership team, where he guides the data programmers to build smart, effective, open-source systems. Luke is also the team leader at the Northwest Knowledge Network.

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Dr. Donna Delparte

Institute: Idaho State University

Department: Geosciences

Role: Professor

Dr. Delparte has an extensive background in the applications of GIS and remote sensing to the fields of geosciences, resource management and conservation/environmental planning. Dr. Delparte's current research focus relates to visualization, 3D modeling and analysis. In the Virtual Watershed project, Dr. Delparte's research group is creating a REST API for a novel statistical gridding tool along with WCS and WMS web services, and a built-in visualization.

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Dr. Sergiu Dascalu

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: Professor

Dr. Dascalu's main research interests are in Software Engineering (in particular, software for scientific and interdisciplinary research, requirements specification, software environments, and software systems) and Human-Computer Interaction (user interface design, virtual environments, and simulation environments). Other interests include Collaborative Systems, Data Science, and Computer-Aided Education. He advises Lisa Palathingal and Moinul Hossain, who focus on enabling on-demand modeling and data interoperability.

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Lisa Palathingal

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: Masters Student

Lisa is the lead developer of the PRMS modeling adaptors, which allow a researcher to use netCDF files instead of PRMS-specific data formats. In addition to allowing researchers to use a more common data format, this also allows interoperability between PRMS and other Virtual Watershed models. Her research interests interests include software engineering, human computer interaction, data structures, analysis of algorithms and data science.

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Moinul Hossain

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: PhD Student

Moinul is the lead designer and developer of the Virtual Watershed modeling REST API, which will allow many researchers to run or couple a variety of models all in parallel. He has also made significant contributions to the Virtual Watershed web app and PRMS modeling adaptors.

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Jose T Painumkal

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: Masters Student

Jose joined the project in June 2016 and is the lead developer, maintainer of the Virtual Watershed portal since then. He has developed several tools for improving the modelling capabilities of Virtual Watershed. Some of his important works include integration of data converters for PRMS modelling, python API client for facilitating storage and retrieval of geospatial data, and a web tool for PRMS model modification for scenario-based studies.

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Rui Wu

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: PhD Student

Rui Wu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nevada,Reno, USA. He started the Ph.D. program in Spring 2014 after obtaining in 2013 a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Technology from Jilin University, China. His main research interests are in data analysis, data visualization, and software engineering.

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Chase Carthen

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: PhD Student

Chase is the lead developer of the Virtual Watershed's visualization products. Using the Unity gaming engine, Chase and his teammates create virtualized watershed environments. Chase has been particularly instrumental in bringing together the many diverse facets of the Virtual Watershed system (data management, modeling, geospatial and scientific data) to create visualizations and environments that the watershed scientists desire. His research interests include human-computer interaction, graphics and simulations, and artificial intelligence.

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Nolan Burfield

Institute: University of Nevada, Reno

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Role: Masters Student

Nolan joined the project in mid-2015 and contributes to the development of new visualizations and adaptors for the visualization system.

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Tucker Chapman

Institute: Idaho State University

Department: Geosciences

Role: Masters Student

Tucker is a Masters student advised by Donna Delparte. He is the lead developer of the gridding tool, including performance testing, its REST and Python APIs, and its ArcGIS package.

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Joel Johansen

Institute: Idaho State University

Department: Geosciences

Role: Masters Student

Joel led the initial development of the Delparte lab's statistical gridding tool by combining high resolution imagery and digital elevation models to model and visualize various watershed scenarios. Joel has succesfully completed his Masters degree and is now a Precision Agriculture Specialist at the J.R. Simplot Company in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

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John Savickas

Institute: University of New Mexico

Department: Earth Data Analysis Center (EDAC)

Role: CI-Data Leadership Team

John brings a decades-long career in software development and leading software teams to help our small staff of programmers accomplish the big tasks it has been given. He has been developing high-end interactive desktop and web applications for the past 18 years with companies like Honeywell, Polar USA, Lovelace Healthcare Systems and numerous others. He is currently working on the New Mexico EPSCoR projects managing the cyber infrastructure development team.

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John Erickson

Institute: University of New Mexico

Department: Earth Data Analysis Center (EDAC)

Role: Staff Software Developer

John works on the data management backend API and the PRMS adaptors. He also contributes to the visualization efforts.

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Matthew Turner

Institute: University of Idaho

Department: Northwest Knowledge Network

Role: Lead Software Developer

Matt's background is in mathematics and physics with an M.S. in Applied Physics. Before joining the Northwest Knowledge Network and the Virtual Watershed project, he worked as a data engineer at an economic modeling firm. His current research interests include web applications, data and metadata management, and scientific applications of programming. He leads the development of the modeling adaptors and the Virtual Wateshed website, working closely with watershed scientists to try to make sure we're building useful software products.

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