NOAA National Water Center
University of Alabama campus, Tuscaloosa

Software Engineers & Scientists
(Entry to Expert levels)

Scientific excellence and innovation driving water prediction and decisions
for a water-resilient nation

CPAESS supports exciting career opportunities to work at the new NOAA National Water Center (NWC), a state-of-the-art collaborative facility located on the vibrant campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The NWC mission is to deliver state-of-the-science, summit-to-sea, treetop-to-bedrock hydrologic analyses, forecast information and decision support services to enable critical 21st century water resources decisions, support next-generation adaptive water planning, preparedness and response activities and improve resiliency to our Nation’s growing water challenges.

Operational, development, field support and stakeholder decision-support functions take place at the newly constructed facility:


The core of NWC operations includes three major functions:

  1. acquisition, coordination, maintenance and integration of in situ, airborne and satellite-based water observation data to support analysis and data assimilation into models,
  2. operation and maintenance of numerical water resources analysis and prediction modeling and data assimilation systems in collaboration with National Weather Service (NWS) National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), 13 regional River Forecast Centers (RFCs) and Federal agency partners, and
  3. provision of centralized national-level multi-agency geo-intelligence, situational awareness and a common operating picture for water resources forecasting and decision support.


NWC research and development focuses on advancing the maturity of research from NOAA, partner agencies and academia, integrating science and technology across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and transitioning new capabilities into operations.  The NWC manages a portfolio of applied hydrologic, hydro-ecologic and water resources research, develops mission-oriented software, systems and information technology, demonstrates the advanced readiness of tools, applications and capabilities through an operational proving ground environment, and transitions new science into national and regional hydrologic forecast operations.

Field Support

The NWC provides science and technical support services to regional and local field offices and others across the Nation, including provision of centralized data and data archive services for NWS RFCs, provision of operational service backup to NWS RFCs, technical support for NWS hydrologic software and systems, and provision of on-site and remote water resources training. 

Decision Support Services

In collaboration with federal partners and other elements within NOAA and NWS, the NWC engages with national and regional water-resources stakeholders to ensure that NWC products and services address stakeholders’ needs and support effective decision-making.  Stakeholders include decision makers who manipulate water, water and environmental resource managers and planners, emergency managers and responders, public-sector water information consumers, and “internal” stakeholders involved in the enterprise collection, analysis, prediction and delivery of water information and services.

The NWC is located on the main campus of the University of Alabama (UA), with a student population of about 35,000.  The NWC is located adjacent to the UA’s new Science and Engineering Quad and to the future home of the University’s Performing Arts Center. 

Tuscaloosa is a thriving college town located on the banks of the Black Warrior River, with a population of nearly 100,000 residents and a metropolitan area population of over 180,000.  It is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for west-central Alabama.  Tuscaloosa has received many quality-of-life accolades and continues to thrive as the city continues a downtown revitalization.  This city is also expanding recreational trails, businesses, and restaurants along the Black Warrior riverfront, which includes a state-of-the-art amphitheater that hosts major performances and community events.  Famous for its southern-style barbeque, Tuscaloosa also boasts diverse dining opportunities throughout the area.  Tuscaloosa serves as a launching point to other attractions throughout the Southeast. Birmingham, Alabama's largest city, is only an hour away. Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans are all within an easy 3-4 hour drive.  Numerous outdoor recreational areas are nearby, including the beaches of the Gulf Coast.

UCAR is seeking talented software engineers and scientists to join the NWC teams being formed to undertake data and applications engineering and development in hydraulics, verification/evaluation, Geographic Information Systems science, and hydrologic modeling.

UCAR pays a competitive salary and offers an excellent benefits package.  Positions are classified within the UCAR system based upon job skills and level of responsibility.  A relocation allowance (maximum $10,000) is provided. 

Software Engineers (two disciplinary areas)

  • Data Engineering
    • Programming and software development focusing on automation of acquisition, manipulation, processing and management of a wide variety of data from diverse sources.   Expertise in one or more of these areas of data engineering is required.  Familiarity with existing and emerging protocols, standards and services associated with hydrologic, weather and earth science data is highly desired, as are relational database management skills.
  • Applications Engineering
    • Development of software applications in the arena of hydrologic and earth science, including modeling, data processing, statistical analysis, visualization and display.  Familiarity with the Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF) or similar environmental modeling standards is desirable.  Familiarity with parallel processing and high-performance computing applications is also desired.

Associate Scientists (four disciplinary areas)

In addition to the specific areas of subject matter expertise and experience, associate scientists applicants should possess project planning and management experience; communication and writing skills.

  • Hydraulics.  Two types of hydraulic modeling and engineering expertise are needed:
    • Implementing and Using Hydraulic Models.
      • Requires familiarity with existing 1D, 2D and/or 3D hydraulic models such as HEC-RAS, Delft 3D, DFlow-Flexible Mesh, Sobek, DHI-Mike 11, or similar; ability to install, configure, operate, and conduct experiments with these types of models; ability to evaluate model fidelity, skill and performance. Basic knowledge of geospatial data and information systems supporting the parameterization of hydraulic models and the generation of flood inundation maps is highly desired.
    • Developing and Linking Hydraulic Models.
      • Requires enhanced ability to work with hydraulic models at a low (structural/algorithmic) level, improving algorithms, linking to fluvial or estuarine models, expanding capability of existing models to address gaps or deficiencies, and improve operational use. Familiarity with adaptive or flexible mesh technology is desirable.
  • Model Verification/Evaluation.  Expertise is needed to support comprehensive quantitative analysis of the skill or performance of hydrologic models and services for both verification of operational model forecasts and evaluation of developmental models, tools and techniques.  Work includes systematic testing in a rigorous proving ground environment.  Requires familiarity with hydrologic and earth science modeling, strong applied math and statistics skills, knowledge of geo- or spatial-statistics, and strong experience in scientific hypothesis testing. 
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) Science.  The NWC Geo-Intelligence Laboratory requires expertise in the scientific dimensions of GIS, emphasizing sound development and use of geospatial information technologies and applications.  Requires familiarity with common GIS tools and applications including, but not limited to ESRI applications; familiarity with satellite remote sensing applications and in particular, image processing tools; specialized knowledge of geoinformatics with emphasis on geospatial data and information relevant to hydrologic science; solid understanding of principles of cartography.  Masters or Doctorate degree desired.
  • Hydrologic Modeling.  Expertise is needed to develop, test and operate hydrologic and related models for purposes of evaluating capability, enhancing or developing new capability including coupling of different models, linking models to modeling frameworks, developing high-performance water modeling and prediction applications and providing guidance regarding effective use of different models for different applications.  Emphasis is on two areas: 1) setting up, using and evaluating a potentially wide range of models to inform development investments and operational use, and 2) model development and coupling.  Requires substantial knowledge of hydrologic science, experience working with (preferably a wide array of) hydrologic models; proficiency in scientific programming and scripting.


P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000, USA



UCAR is an EO/AAE who values and encourages diversity in the workplace.