Eighth Symposium on Integrated Observing and Assimilation Systems for Atmosphere, Oceans, and Land Surface


The Hurricane-Flood-Landslide Continuum—Forecasting Hurricane Effects At Landfall

Andrew J. Negri, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and J. H. Golden and R. G. Updike

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones strike Central American, Caribbean, Southeast Asian and Pacific Island nations even more frequently than the U.S. The global losses of life and property from the floods, landslides and debris flows caused by cyclonic storms are staggering. One of the keys to reducing these losses, both in the U.S. and internationally, is to have better forecasts of what is about to happen from several hours to days before the event. Particularly in developing nations where science, technology and communication are limited, advance-warning systems can have great impact. In developing countries, warnings of even a few hours or days can mitigate or reduce catastrophic losses of life.

With the foregoing needs in mind, we propose an initial project of three years total duration that will aim to develop and transfer a warning system for a prototype region in the Central Caribbean, specifically the islands of Puerto Rico and Hispanola. The Hurricane-Flood-Landslide Continuum will include satellite observations to track and nowcast dangerous levels of precipitation, atmospheric and hydrological models to predict near-future runoff, and streamflow changes in affected regions, and landslide models to warn when and where land-slides and debris flows are imminent. Since surface communications are likely to be interrupted dur-ing these crises, the project also includes the capability to communicate disaster information via satellite to vital government officials in Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Dominican Republic.

The essence of our vision is that we can develop the tools that will allow the United States to issue forecast guidance products for floods and landslides associated with the onset of major storms, and disseminate this guidance to local government entities well before the floods and slides begin.

To accomplish this vision, NOAA, USGS, and NASA are prepared to combine their respective sci-entific and technical talents. NOAA has the capability to provide highly reliable tracking and pre-diction of storm rainfall, trajectory and landfall. USGS has the capability to evaluate beforehand the ambient stability of natural and man-made landforms, to assess landslide susceptibilities for those landforms, and to establish probabilities for initiation of landslides and debris flows. In addition, USGS is widely recognized as a leader in the study of the interrelationship of vegetation, ambient stream flow, ground water, soil moisture, and geologic conditions in assessing the potential for floods. NASA, NOAA, and USGS are all currently actively developing precipitation-flood forecasting technologies. NOAA-NWS has a successful history of developing technologies aimed at rapid dissemination of weather threat data. NASA has great capacity to monitor and evaluate various natural phenomena occuring at the earth’s surface. With its multiple satellite platforms and remote sensing devices on board these satellites, NASA provides the United States with sophisticated rainfall mapping for severe storms and hurricanes. All three agencies have a long history of work on natural hazards both domestically and overseas.

A working group of 30-40 interested scientists and program managers will convene a workshop in early FY04 to solidify these objectives, and pursue funding opportunities. We will report on the outcome of this workshop at the Symposium.

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Poster Session 2, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Land Observations
Wednesday, 14 January 2004, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Hall AB

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