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GeoPlenary 2017

Joseph Smith once said, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” In many ways, this is the underlying mission and sentiment of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). GEO is an intergovernmental organization created by the United Nations to achieve UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. To accomplish this, GEO aims to improve global observation systems and make these systems more available to developing countries.

BYU Civil and Environmental Engineering department has worked with the AmeriGEOSS group for a few years in capacity building on hydroinformatics and water resource management. This is thanks President Worthen’s Inspiring Learning promoting student mentoring programs. BYU hydroInformatics lab has been working to expand the NASA-SERVIR forecasting and information project globally as part of the new Global Water Sustainability (GEOGLOWS) initiative.

The pilot demonstration has included working with agencies in the Dominican Republic, Nepal, Brazil, Thailand, Africa and Argentina. The BYU team presented the project at the 14th GEO Plenary held in Washington DC Oct. 23-27 where they were accompanied by representatives from three of the countries, including head of the Dominican Republic’s hydrology department Israel Acosta, the director of Brazil’s disaster management agency Osvaldo Moraes, and Basanta Shrestha a senior leader from ICIMOD and Nepal.

The work by the hydroinformatics lab received further recognition when they were awarded two additional NASA Applied Science projects (totaling ~$200,000/year in funding for the next three years) to continue their work using the Tethys web based water resources application platform to provide decision support tools for the food, water, and health sectors. Dr. Nelson represented the team at the awards ceremony held during the Geo Plenary.

BYU Role

For the past several years our BYU Hydroinformatics lab has been successful developing tools that allow us to create water resources decision-support web applications. Dr Nelson said the following: “I attribute the success we have had to the talented and faithful students that are a part of our program and are here at BYU striving to develop their full potential as world class civil engineers and leaders who are committed serving others. I often think about their hopes and dreams and their many prayers, and those of their parents, and know that as faculty we have a responsibility to provide the kind of Inspiring Learning opportunities that university leaders have challenged us to do. I am so grateful for the emphasis on mentoring at BYU and the resources that provide opportunities to be involved with the GEO, but more importantly to be a part of the development of such outstanding young men and women. I am also grateful for my colleagues at NASA, NOAA, ICIMOD, and ECMWF for their support and confidence in us.”

More about GeoPlanary 2017


Souffront Alcantara, Michael A; Crawley, Shawn; Stealey, Michael J.; Nelson, E. James; Ames, Daniel P.; Jones, Norm L. (2017). Open Water Data Solutions for Accessing the National Water Model. Retrieved from