ECHO Post-Doctoral Fellowship Solicitation Request

(CHL Internal Submission Blank Form)


Project Title:  Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations.


Research Advisor (Name, Email, Short Bio): Charles W. Downer,, is a leading researcher in water resources for the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC).  At this position Dr. Downer’s leads scientific teams in the development and application of numerical models to solve complex water resources problems including flood control, water supply, sediment and contaminant control, and ecosystem restoration. His developments and studies have been published in more than 100 reports, conference proceedings and refereed journal articles. Dr. Downer is registered as a Professional Engineer (PE) in the state of Mississippi and holds an internationally recognized credential as a Project Management Professional (PMP).


Proposed Length of Time: 1 year, with possibility to extend multiple years


Project Background: The Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) project is a US Army Corps of Engineers research effort with the goal of improving reservoir operations at USACE projects by providing water managers with forecast information on weather (precipitation), hydrology (discharge), and reservoir levels to inform their decisionmaking.  FIRO is currently concluding Phase II and initiating the initial year of Phase III.  Past FIRO efforts have been at conducted at Lake Mendocino in Phase I (Jasperse et. al., 2020).  Currently, hydrologic research is being conducted at Prado Dam, as part of Phase II (Ralph et. al., 2021).  In Phase III, additional locations will be explored.  Hydrologic research in FIRO includes the use of weather forecast in hydrologic modeling, application of physics based hydrologic models in hydrologic forecasting, application of integrated watershed/stream/reservoir models for hydrologic forecasting, initializing hydrologic models with remote sensed data, the use of data assimilation in hydrologic forecasting, and delivery of information in web-based GUIs.  Tools developed at ERDC, including, GSSHA (Downer et. al., 2005) and Tethys (Swain et al., 2015; Aquaveo, 2022) are being used and developed as part of the FIRO effort


Project Goals:  The goal of FIRO is to use forecasts of weather, hydrology, and reservoir levels to increase the flexibility water managers have in their water management decisions to allow more efficient operation of the reservoir for authorized project purposes, such as flood control, water supply, ecological benefits, recreation and power generation.


Anticipated Skillsets:  This project will involve the development and application of hydrologic models and the delivery of results in mapping/GUI systems.  Knowledge of surface water, groundwater, stream/river and reservoir hydrology and modeling is needed.  Programming skills in C, C++, and/or Python are highly desirable.  Additional skills relevant to the projects include GIS/mapping, data assimilation, machine learning, and remote sensed information.


The research topic will be developed collaboratively between the selected Post Doc and PI based on their particular skill sets and interest and project goals.  Potential topics include:

  • initialization of hydrologic models using remote sensed data
  • development of automated coupled atmospheric/hydrologic model forecast systems
  • development of internet based information systems
  • data assimilation in hydrologic model forecasting
  • characterization/mapping of global hydrologic regimes
  • development/mapping of global groundwater levels
  • utilizing machine learning methods to extrapolate limited hydrologic information to define global hydrologic parameters



Downer, C.W., F. L. Ogden, J. Neidzialek, and S. Liu, 2005.  GSSHA:  A model for simulating diverse streamflow generating processes.  Chapter 6 in:  Singh, V.P. and D. Frevert, Watershed Models, CRC Press.

Jasperse, J., Ralph, F. M., Anderson, M., Brekke, L., Malasavage, N., Dettinger, M. D., Forbis, J., Fuller, J., Talbot, C., Webb, R., & Haynes, A. (2020). Lake Mendocino Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations Final Viability Assessment. UC San Diego.

J., Talbot, C., Webb, R., & Haynes, A. (2020). Lake Mendocino Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations

Final Viability Assessment. UC San Diego.

Ralph, F. M., Woodside, G., Anderson, M., Cleary-Rose, K., Haynes, A., Jasperse, J., Sweeten,J., Talbot, C.,Tyler, J.,Vermeeren, R. (2021). Prado Dam Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations Preliminary Viability Assessment. UC San Diego. Retrieved from

Swain, N. R., Latu, K., Christensen, S. D., Jones, N. L., Nelson, E. J., Ames, D. P., & Williams, G. P. (2015). A review of open source software solutions for developing water resources web applications. Environmental Modelling & Software, 67, 108-117.