NC State project aims to create faster storm surge forecasting
Planning for a hurricane is a complicated process involving many stakeholders and varying degrees of uncertainty. Accurate predictions of storm surge and wave heights are vital to decision-making before, during and after the storm. Creating these predictions through modeling software can be expensive and time-consuming. When dealing with hurricanes, time is critical for emergency managers and other officials.
Helping decision-makers to save valuable prediction time is CRC Principal Investigator Dr. Casey Dietrich of North Carolina State University (NCSU). His project, “Improving the Efficiency of Wave and Surge Models via Adaptive Mesh Resolution,” involves collaboration with co-PI Dr. Clint Dawson at the University of Texas at Austin. Their project focuses on speeding up a widely used prediction tool, ADCIRC. His work with North Carolina Emergency Management during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and his contributions to developing future disaster resilience specialists, have helped make significant contributions to disaster preparation and recovery.
Hurricane Hindsight: Researchers Work to Improve Coastal Flooding Predictions
Computer models can make surge predictions based on limited information about storm characteristics such as track, size, maximum wind speed and central pressure. Those parameters are used to predict the surface pressures and wind speeds throughout a coastal region. Those atmospheric conditions are then used to predict how the ocean will respond by generating large waves and surge, and by flooding into low-lying areas.
Given all the variables involved, there’s a lot of room for error in storm wind and surge prediction modeling.
For our study, we wanted to know how forecasting errors affect subsequent coastal flooding predictions. To that end, we needed to answer a couple of questions: First, as a storm moves closer to the coast, how accurate are forecasts of certain storm parameters like track, size, and maximum wind speed? Second, how do those forecasts affect predictions of wind speeds and storm surge?
A Thomas, JC Dietrich, JG Fleming, BO Blanton, T Asher, RA Luettich. “High-Resolution Modeling of Surge during Hurricane Matthew.” ADCIRC Users Group Meeting, NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, Maryland, 13 April 2018.
N Tull, JC Dietrich, TE Langan, H Mitasova, BO Blanton, JG Fleming, RA Luettich. “Improving Accuracy of Real-Time Storm Surge Inundation Predictions.” ADCIRC Users Group Meeting, NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, Maryland, 13 April 2018.
A Thomas, JC Dietrich, JG Fleming, BO Blanton, T Asher, RA Luettich. “High-Resolution Modelling of Surge during Hurricane Matthew (2016).” Graduate Student Research Symposium, North Carolina State University, 21 March 2018.
PhD student Ajimon Thomas won Honorable Mention. Ajimon described his research to quantify interactions between tides and storm surge along the U.S. southeast coast during Hurricane Matthew.
This event is an annual showcase for research in our Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal (EWC) engineering group, as well as a recruiting event for potential students. Awardees are selected by judges from other academic departments, government agencies, and consulting firms. Students presented their posters to judges and visitors during a poster session, and then finalists presented orally to the entire audience.
Congratulations to Nelson and Ajimon!
N Tull, JC Dietrich, TE Langan, H Mitasova, BO Blanton, JG Fleming, RA Luettich. “Improving Accuracy of Real-Time Storm Surge Inundation Predictions.” Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal Engineering Research Symposium, North Carolina State University, 2 March 2018.
JC Dietrich, A Muhammad, M Curcic, A Fathi, CN Dawson, SS Chen, RA Luettich (2018). “Sensitivity of Storm Surge Predictions to Atmospheric Forcing during Hurricane Isaac.” Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering, 144(1), DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)WW.1943-5460.0000419