Hydrologic data access using web services

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Southwest Hydrology



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When a hydrologist wants to study a watershed, stream, or aquifer, one of the first tasks is to assemble pertinent information, including data on precipitation, streamflow, water quality, groundwater levels, and climate. At the national level, much of this information is available on public websites, such as the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS), the National Climatic Data Center’s Climate Data Online, and the EPA Storet system for water quality. Additional information is available from the web pages of state and local water agencies. All these websites are designed uniquely, each with its own method of presenting data. The end result is that the hydrologist sets off on an Easter egg hunt searching through all these information sources trying to discover how each one operates and eventually assembling a set of output files in various formats that then have to be homogenized into the format needed to support a particular analysis. More extensive data sources, such as Nexrad precipitation or MODIS remote sensing, have large files in arcane formats that require significant effort before they can be accessed and used.

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