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Living With Floods

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Published on Jun 21, 2010

The concept for the Iowa Flood Center is rooted in the monumental efforts that took place on The University of Iowa (UI) campus in June 2008 before, during, and after the Iowa and Cedar Rivers crested in Eastern Iowa. In between filling sandbags and moving out of flood-endangered buildings, UI researchers began collecting time-sensitive data of many aspects of the flood -- from high resolution data to document flood water elevations, to contaminated sediments deposited by flood waters. The flood helped catalyze formation of new teams of researchers from throughout the UI campus to work together on flood-related initiatives. They also sought funding from a variety of sources and in the first 12 months after the flood, The University of Iowa was awarded over $500,000 by the National Science Foundation for flood-related research.

A central issue that emerged from this work was the realization that there is no central place in Iowa (or in the nation!) for advanced research and education specifically related to floods. Thus came the discussion and formulation of a plan to establish an Iowa-based center for flood research and education. The University of Iowa was the logical home for this center, based on its own experience during the flood and because it houses IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, one of the preeminent hydraulics laboratories in the US.

In spring 2009, the State of Iowa established (and funded) the new Iowa Flood Center (IFC). This effort was spearheaded by several Iowa senators and representatives, and others with much behind-the-scenes work by Drs. Larry Weber and Witold Krajewski. $1,300,000 was appropriated for the Center in its first year (FY2010).

The IFC is now actively engaged in flood projects in several Iowa communities and employs several graduate and undergraduate students participating in flood-related research. IFC researchers are also currently designing a series of sensors for a sensor network to better monitor local river flow. A set of four X-band radars are also in preparation for deployment in Eastern Iowa to improve the use of radar data for precipitation measurement and to better predict small and large-scale flooding events. (See Current Projects for examples of other flood-related activities.)

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