Houses damaged at Ortley Beach, New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy. Researchers at Princeton and Rutgers universities and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have developed a computer simulation that estimates that storm-related flooding on the New York City coastline similar in scale to those seen during Sandy are likely to become more common in coming decades.
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Researchers at Princeton and Rutgers universities and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have developed a computer simulation that estimates that storm-related flooding on the New York City coastline similar in scale to those seen during Sandy are likely to become more common in coming decades. The new model provides an important new tool that can predict, more accurately than previously possible, the kinds of storm floods that will threaten coastal cities over the next century. The new simulation promises to provide a picture of long-term coastal flood risk by accounting for both sea-level rise and varying storm activity due to climate change. Scientists call flooding associated with coastal storms "surge floods," referring the rise of coastal water due to storm surge (produced by a stormís pressure and wind forces) and sea-level rise.
In the study, Ning Lin, lead author of a paper published on their research and an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton, and colleagues used the model to estimate past and future Sandy-like flood events in New York City. Their estimates were based on historic data and combined predictions of sea level and peak storm-surge height generated by several climate models including those the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses.
"Our model for the first time pulls together probabilistic estimates for sea-level rise and storm surge to produce long-term predictions of flood stages," Lin said. "These two variables, although largely uncertain, are critical in determining the extent of coastal flooding from future hurricanes."
This research was supported in part by a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant (CMMI 13-14649). NSF awards RAPID grants 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.
To learn more about this research, see the NSF News From the Field story Researchers predict growing number of Hurricane Sandy-like storm surges. (Date image taken: November 2012; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: March 1, 2017)