Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Brandon T Forbes

Brandon is a multifaceted hydrologist with extensive experience measuring, surveying, modeling, and collecting all types of surface water data ranging from dry channels to extreme flood conditions. Specializes in solutions to unique hydraulic and hydrologic problems through rapid remote sensing and unique hydrologic data acquisition.

Brandon is a hydrologist and has worked with the USGS Arizona Water Science Center since 2008.  During this time, he graduated from the University of Arizona with a BS in Watershed Hydrology in 2010 and earned a master’s degree in Ecohydrology from the same institution in 2017.  He is interested in using advance techniques to improve stream flow information, especially at locations that are difficult or impossible to access during high flows.  To do this, he is focusing on reach-scale monitoring techniques by instrumenting lengths of river reaches with multiple contact and non-contact hydrologic sensors aimed at better informing hydraulic models which are then used to increase the accuracy of flow data collected at gages.

Brandon is the project chief of the ongoing cooperative program with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).  This program focuses on hydraulic data collection around critical transportation infrastructure providing information to engineers to help gain insight into the dynamic hydraulic conditions around roadways, bridges, and culverts.  This project is unique because it provides ADOT the ability to work side-by-side with USGS to collect data around specific infrastructure in Arizona with the ultimate goal of this information being used to provide insight into our unique hydrologic conditions.

Brandon is working to pioneer the use of small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) into hydrologic science.  He is a Department of Interior licensed drone operator and is pursuing techniques and methods to enhance the ability to collect accurate and high-resolution data to inform difficult hydrologic questions.  sUAS provide the unique ability to suspend sensors overhead and Brandon is pursuing techniques to best use the sensors available to USGS.  Techniques include photogrammetric data collection for digital elevation models and surface velocity data to inform stream gage operation.  Importantly, these sensors and techniques can be used to enhance data collection for routine measurements to natural disasters.  

Brandon has been asked to aid USGS in many emergency responses to natural disasters in his career and has collected data on many projects including major flooding, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and debris flows located all over the United States.  He specializes in applying new surveying and data collection techniques to increase the accuracy and resolution of emergency response data.  This includes the use of GPS surveying, lidar, and data collected with sUAS all to help better inform emergency management operations.  

Education and Certifications

  • MS University of Arizona in Ecohydrology. 2017

  • BS University of Arizona in Watershed Hydrology. 2010

Science and Products