Pennsylvania State University

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Pennsylvania State University - Civil and Environmental Engineering
231C Sackett Building
University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

About Pennsylvania State University

The Multiscale Hydrology, Processes and Intelligence Group at PennState University focuses its research on advancing fundamental understanding of the interactions between hydrology and other subsystems (e.g., ecosystem, energy and carbon cycles, solid earth and channels). Water scarcity and excess create varied conflicts and competitions in different parts of the world, and drastic changes in the water cycle put stress on natural and societal systems. Importantly, the changes in water states and flows are a significant driver for changes in other systems. We strive to provide sound physical science, produced by data, data-driven and process-based models, to support decision-making across multiple scales, from catchment to global scales. Meanwhile, our fundamental understanding of the hydrologic cycle, after decades of research, still remains much to be improved. We strive to identify commonalities and learn underlying principles.

Our primary methods include (1) high performance physically-based hydrologic models; and (2) state-of-the-art deep learning (DL). The former allows us to conduct experiments, while the latter, through mining land-based and remotely-sensed data, help to efficiently generate hypotheses about how the system functions. Recently, we have focused on DL-based prediction of soil moisture and other variables. The DL has also manifested refreshingly strong predictive capability for many applications. Read Prof. Chaopeng Shen's argument, review, and opinions for the integration of deep learning in water-related fields.

We are opening sourcing our hydrologic deep learning code.

Besides machine learning, another tool we use intensively is the Process-based Adaptive Watershed Simulator (PAWS), a comprehensive, computationally-efficient parallel hydrologic model designed for large-scale simulation. The model is now coupled to the Community Land Model (CLM), and therefore is able to simulate Carbon/Nitrogen cycling, ecosystem dynamics and their interactions with the water cycle. Due to its comprehensiveness, efficiency, and flexibility, this tool provides a useful platform for the integration of biogeochemistry, fluid mechanics, and human dimensions into a uniform modeling framework, to investigate their mutual interactions, to test hypothesis about causal relationships and to assess future changes.

PAWS is now open to all users. READ repo access will be granted to anyone who
request it by sending an email to

Through our volunteer work, our group has just brought online a deep-learning-based tool to track soil moisture changes in Africa/Asia to help combat the locust swarms which threatens global food security.

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