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Extension liaison selected for National Water Center

By Melissa Schneider, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium 

In an effort to meet the needs of water management decision-makers, The University of Alabama (UA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service and NOAA Sea Grant announce that Karen Bareford has been hired as the national water extension liaison at the National Water Center (NWC).

Located at the NWC on the UA campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Bareford will work with community stakeholders and partners to understand what information they need to make the best decisions possible. She also will develop and deliver outreach products based on relevant NWC science.

“The importance and value of having a water extension liaison on our campus is that it fosters opportunities for knowledge sharing through interactions and collaborations between our researchers and water management decision-makers,” said Patricia Sobecky, associate provost for academic affairs and executive director for the Alabama Water Institute at UA.

As a member of the NWC and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, Bareford will work with NWC scientists and Sea Grant extension professionals across the country to ensure they understand what information decision-makers need (and in which formats) to best plan for water challenges.

“This effort represents a tremendous opportunity to expand our collaboration and partnership with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, NOAA and the National Water Center through the national water extension program,” said Carl A. Pinkert, vice president for research and economic development at UA and chair of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Board of Directors.

The NWC supports collaborative and comprehensive water resources services and aims to meet stakeholders’ needs to help them build more resilient communities. Interagency personnel include employees from NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, visiting scientists and contractors. The center includes a water resources forecasting operations center, an applied water resources research and development center, a geo-intelligence facility and an airborne snow and soil moisture observation facility.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Bareford join the team at the National Water Center, as she brings critical expertise and an invaluable link to the Sea Grant community and beyond,” said Peter Colohan, the director of Service Innovation and Partnership at NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction, which includes the NWC. 

Bareford has expertise in extension and outreach, as well as in marine spatial planning, coastal planning, environmental planning and ocean policy and management.

Most recently she worked as a coastal planning specialist with Texas Sea Grant. She also brings with her more than 10 years of experience working with coastal and ocean conservation and management with the State of Florida.

“Dr. Bareford brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with groups on and near the coast,” said Edward Clark, deputy director of the Office of Water Prediction and director of the NWC. “As the NOAA water initiative begins to implement comprehensive and coupled water modeling and forecasting information across the riverine and coastal boundary, her expertise will help ensure that we provide the right information and services to some of our most vulnerable communities.” 

Bareford has as Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from Florida State University. She also holds a master’s degree in outdoor recreation with an emphasis in environmental education and leadership and a bachelor’s degree in public affairs, both from Indiana University.

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