About Me

Michael Koohafkan

I am a Water Resources Engineer with the California Department of Water Resources, Division of Environmental Services. I provide modeling and data analysis support for special studies relating to water resources management, ecosystem function, and habitat restoration, with special focus on the Suisun Marsh and Bay-Delta. I have wide-ranging expertise in hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and water quality modeling as well as remote-sensing and GIS analysis. More recently, my work has involved the management and analysis of “big” environmental data and large longitudinal datasets from long-term environmental sensor networks. Prior to joining DWR, I worked with the USACE Hydrologic Engineering Center, where I worked with the HEC-RAS software development team to design and implement sediment transport modeling features. During this time I also provided support to USACE regional offices on projects involving bed, bank and floodplain geomorphic processes in large sand-bed rivers.

I am also a PhD candidate in the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Group at University of California Davis. My doctoral research is focused on using graph theory to represent and analyze spatial and temporal interactions between landscape features. I developed a novel graph-theoretic approach and am using it to study the morphodynamics of emergent sandbars in the Missouri River in collaboration with the Missouri River Recovery Program, and to explore salmonid habitat dynamics in the Russian River Estuary in collaboration with NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint. I started the doctoral program in late 2014 following completion of a Masters of Science in Environmental Engineering at University of California Berkeley, where I studied the role of fog in the hydrology of coastal watersheds in California. I have also worked with the American Bird Conservancy and the Engineer Research and Development Center on the development of an agent-based model of Interior Least Tern breeding behavior.

Mostly though, I write code. I love using computer programming to solve problems and improve workflows. I’m passionate about visualizing data and using computers to communicate science. I’m all about using the right tool for the right job (as long as I can automate it!) and love to teach my methods, so my blog mostly explores approaches to solving programming problems in a variety of languages (along with some shout-outs to publications and presentations I’m involved in).


Koohafkan, M., Gibson, S., Pridal, D., and Boyd, P. 2019. “Modeling Bank Migration on the Missouri River with HEC-RAS: A Calibrated HEC-RAS/BSTEM Model.” Presented at the Federal Interagency Sedimentation and Hydrologic Modeling (SEDHYD) Conference, Reno, NV, 2019. (link)

Gibson, S., Lehman, W., Koohafkan, M., and Pridal, D. 2019. “Using HEC-WAT and HEC-RAS-Sediment to the Evaluate the Effect of Hydrologic Uncertainty on Bed Evolution.” Presented at the Federal Interagency Sedimentation and Hydrologic Modeling (SEDHYD) Conference, Reno, NV, 2019. (link)

Gibson, S., Osorio, A., Creech, C., Amorim, R., Dircksen, M., Dahl, T., and Koohafkan, M. 2019. “Two pool-to-pool spacing periods on large sand-bed rivers: Mega-pools on the Madeira and Mississippi”. Geomorphology, 328:196-210.

Koohafkan, M.C. and Gibson, S. 2018. “Geomorphic trajectory and landform analysis using graph theory: A panel data approach to quantitative geomorphology.” Progress in Physical Geography, 42(6):679-696. (link)

Gerlein-Safdi, C., Koohafkan, M.C., Chung, M., Rockwell, F.E., Thompson, S., and Caylor, K.K. 2018. “Dew deposition suppresses transpiration and carbon uptake in leaves”. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 259(15):305-316.

Koohafkan, M.C. and Younis, B.A. 2015. “Open-Channel Computation with R.” The R Journal, 7(2):249-262. (link)

Lott, C.A., Railsback, S.F., Sheppard, C.F., and Koohafkan, M.C. 2013. “Developing and Testing TernCOLONY 1.0: An Individual-based Model of Least Tern Reproduction.” ERDC/EL CR-13-2, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. Dated June 2013, 192 pp.

Koohafkan, M.C., Thompson, S.E., Leonardson, R., and Dufour, A. (2013), Broad-spectrum monitoring strategies for predicting occult precipitation contribution to water balance in a coastal watershed in California: Ground-truthing, areal monitoring and isotopic analysis of fog in the San Francisco Bay region, Abstract A41E-0102 presented at 2013 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, Calif., 9-13 Dec.

Koohafkan, M.C., Thompson, S.E., and Hamilton, M.P. (2012), Predicting Potential Evaporation in Topographically Complex Terrain, Abstract H43C-1347 presented at 2012 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, Calif., 3-7 Dec.