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🔬 "Computing Where the Water Goes"


Photo by Courtney Corlew / Unsplash

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: Scott Hagen | Director of the Center for Coastal Resiliency | Louisiana State University
Category: 🔬 Research

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:45] “One loose definition that you can think of with the coastal land margin is the extent of inundation that you might receive from Hurricane storm surge, how far that surge might potentially penetrate inland. And we're actually evolving that as well, because some of our more recent work is getting into aspects of compound flooding. The realization that when we have floods along the coast, especially where we have very low line topography, we have an interaction between the freshwater flows, the rainfall and runoff and the flow of the rivers with the tides and of course with Hurricane storm search.”

[4:20] “[There needs to be a] recognition that coastal land margin can be affected by human intervention, when we build infrastructures, when we build levees, when we build dikes around rivers, when we evolve the […] coastal land margin.”

[5:20] “In the last few decades, we've seen the populations in coastal counties skyrocket. And we've seen the world population as a whole grow. […] And so we're putting more people on the coastal land margin, […] in locations that we know have a higher probability of having flooding. And so, in essence, we're putting people in harm's way. And it complicates the engineering of solutions to deal with that. And it complicates that delicate balance that we have at the coastal land margin, between the coupled natural and human system.

[10:07] “With the advent of the supercomputers and particularly the high performance parallel computing technology, we're able to throw more description at the earth. And we're able to describe how water flows over and up into the estuaries and up the rivers and down the rivers and out of the banks, and all of the flooding characteristics associated with these types of flows, we're able to describe that more definitively. And what I have seen in the last couple of decades is our uncertainty in these types of calculations, not just because of the numerical capabilities, but also because of the remote sensing capabilities and the introduction of laser technology into measuring the land surface. So LIDAR being brought into the equation and being able to describe the land surface more robustly.”

[11:19] “When we […] put this all together in our numerical modeling technology, what we have done is to decrease the uncertainty band to the point where what used to be almost considered noise in the calculations can now be refined enough to understand it. So processes like waves that are breaking near shore and contributing to the increase in the hurricane storm surge can now be modeled and included in the calculations. Processes like rainfall during the hurricane event can actually be included in the process. And what used to be part of the uncertainty band is now becoming part of what we're able to describe and what we're able to better understand so that we're getting an even more complete picture of the entire tide and hurricane storm cert process.”

[22:48] “In the work that we've done, we like to think that we are major contributors to a paradigm shift in the sense of going away from a bathtub modeling approach where you assume that the sea level is going to rise, but there's no dynamic response at the coast, to a more complete coastal dynamics of sea level rise, where you can actually see the coastal land margin changing including the vegetation, including the surface itself in the near shore, and erosion of the near shore. And building that all with respect to the dunes and the barrier islands, etc. into the modeling approaches has been a real major shift in the paradigm of how sea level rises are assessed over this coastal land margin.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 40 min | 🗓️ 06/23/2021
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