No one fully expected flood waters to reach the 500-year-flood level in Iowa in June 2008. The deluge overwhelmed streams and breeched levees in populated areas such as Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, where the Cedar and Iowa Rivers crested at unprecedented heights. Thousands of residents were evacuated and 83 of Iowa's 99 counties were declared disaster areas. The University of Iowa (UI), caught in the path of rising flood waters, suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Read more in this discovery.
Credit: IIHR--Hydroscience and Engineering
Each year, hurricanes cause tremendous destruction across the globe. The destructive power of a hurricane is directly related to its intensity, according to scientists. A team of NSF-supported scientists at Southern Methodist University's Intelligent Data Analysis Lab (IDA) has developed a new forecasting algorithm called the Prediction Intensity Interval model for Hurricanes (PIIH), to help better predict hurricane intensity. Read more in this discovery.
Credit: Kenzie Schott, Southern Methodist University
The mission of the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation in NSF's Directorate for Engineering is to fund fundamental research and education in support of the foundation's strategic goals directed at advances in the disciplines of civil, mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, and materials design. In addition, the division has a focus on the reduction of risks and damage resulting from earthquakes and other natural and technological hazards.
When volcanoes erupt, pinpointing the regions at high risk for lethal hazards and deciding whether or not to evacuate a resistant population comprise the most difficult problems faced by hazards managers. A team of volcanologists has created a program that maps potential problem areas quickly.
December 9, 2013
On the road to resiliency: Researchers map Hurricane Sandy impact in New York City
Street-by-street view provides unprecedented detail of power and transit issues, revealing vulnerabilities
Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest of the 2012 hurricane season and is the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history! (Only the damage from 2005's Hurricane Katrina cost more.) While many scientists will be studying "Sandy" for years to come, some researchers are focused instead on how to make communities less vulnerable to such a storm.
University of Washington civil engineer Dorothy Reed and her team received a rapid grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how Hurricane Sandy affected the infrastructure of the New York metropolitan area, including the power and transit systems.
"I'm very interested in looking at what we can do as civil engineers to make the system more resilient," says Reed.
Reed and her team are creating highly detailed maps to construct a comprehensive street-by-street view of Sandy's devastation. They are plotting things like the locations of power substations and the number of customer outages per district, and overlaying that with schematics of the transit lines and a layer showing where the power failed. Then, they marry those maps with precise weather data from government agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA and the National Hurricane Center.
Reed says her team's work will help planners and engineers identify the city's vulnerabilities—and that's key to being better prepared.
The research is this episode was supported by NSF award #1316290, Rapid Research Grant (RAPID)/Collaborative Research: Collection of Perishable Hurricane Sandy Data on Weather-Related Damage to Urban Power and Transit Infrastructure. The RAPID funding mechanism is used for proposals having a severe urgency with regard to the availability of, or access to, data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick response research on natural and other disasters.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.