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National Water Model


About This Course

An introduction to the National Water Model (NWM). This course provides a brief history of how the National Water Model was created and how it is continually developing today. The different forecast model outputs produced by the NWM are explained in detail. The learner will understand the analysis and assimilation data output period. How the short, medium, and long-range forecasts work and how to read the acquainted data. Hands-on exercises will allow learners to interact with online interactive NWM maps and even make maps of their own using Python coding. Learners will also experiment with downloading NWM data from NOMADS (NOAA Operational Model Archive and Distribution System) and the Google Storage Bucket that can then be exported to a CSV file. Learners will apply their knowledge and skills of the NWM to a final project focused on solving real world problems.

Topics Covered

-History of the National Water Model. -Recent developments. -NWM forecasts (short range, medium range, and long-range forecasts). -Exploration of the NWM interactive map. -How to visualize forecasts using python. -Mapping forecasts with Xarray. -Subetting and exporting forecasts to CSV. -How to use hydrotools to export forecasts to CSSV. -Real world applications through various learning activities.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, the learner should be able to: 1.Summarize what the National Water Model is and the purpose it serves. 2.List and describe the forecast products of the National Water Model. 3.Explore and summarize National Water Model forecasts using the NOAA Office of Water Prediction interactive map application. 4. Use Python code to retrieve, summarize, view, and analyze National Water Model streamflow forecasts. 5.Apply the National Water Model forecasts to a real world water resources management or decision-making scenario.


This course has no prerequisites, however it is recommended that learners have a background in hydrology and basic programming.

Dr. Dan Ames, Easton Perkins, Justin Hunter , Olivia Neeley

Course Staff Image #1

Dr. Dan Ames

Dr. Ames came to Brigham Young University in Fall 2012. Previously he was an Associate Professor at Idaho State University and a Research Assistant Professor at Utah State University. Dr. Ames is the original developer and project manager of several open source GIS based software tools including the widely used MapWindow GIS (, DotSpatial Library ( and HydroDesktop data management system ( Dr. Ames’ research interests and publications include geospatial and hydrologic web services, hydrologic information systems, probabilistic watershed modeling, uncertainty characterization, terrain analysis, evapotranspiration, immersive virtual reality visualization, and open hardware data sensor networks. Dr. Ames has conducted and overseen numerous GIS and engineering software development projects funded by NSF, EPA, USGS, NASA, and various state and local agencies and private industry. He is presently the Editor-in-Chief of two academic journals, Environmental Modelling & Software and Open Water and is past president of the International Environmental Modelling & Software Society.


Target Audience

This module has no prerequisites, however it’s recommended that learners have a background in hydrology and basic programming. This module is designed to serve a large mix of learners whose coding expertise ranges from beginner to expert and whose interest is in water resource research or engineering. This course can be included in undergraduate or graduate level hydrology and modeling classes as a workshop focusing on the NWM and its implications.

Tools Needed

-Stable internet connection. -HydroShare account -Access to 'CUAHSI Cloud Computing' group.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Does this course require programming skills, in what language?

Basic Python coding skills.

Q2: Can I adapt this course?

Yes. Contact the course authors to obtain a compressed file of the course content and import it directly into your own course for further customization

  1. Course Export

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    To customize this course for your own needs, export a copy and import into a new empty course inside Studio. Requires a HydroLearn instructor Studio account.

  2. Course Number

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  4. Estimated Effort

    18 - 24 hrs