92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 1:30 PM
Improving NOAA's Capacity to Address Coastal Inundation Events: The Storm Surge Roadmap and the Way Forward
Room 337 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Jesse Feyen, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD

Severe meteorologically driven coastal inundation events, whether caused by tropical or extratropical storms, are historically among the biggest disasters faced by the U.S. NOAA's mission of predicting changes in the weather and oceans includes coastal inundation events, and NOAA's vision of resilient communities, which can be severely impacted by coastal inundation, requires accurate understanding of severe conditions along with clear communication of the risks to end users. Therefore, NOAA has created an agency-wide strategy to advance its capacity to meet these requirements for coastal inundation events. The Storm Surge Roadmap is a comprehensive effort to holistically address the challenges pertaining to coastal inundation by establishing a community-based approach that works across NOAA, federal partners, and external collaborators.

The Roadmap vision is to clearly communicate highly accurate, relevant, and timely information that results in reductions of loss and enables resilient communities. NOAA supports decision-making across a range of times scales, from long-term mitigation planning to preparing for imminent events. NOAA brings together expertise from many disciplines to address coastal issues, including meteorology, oceanography, observing, modeling, computer science, social science, and so on. With contributions from across the agency, NOAA can develop new models, tools, products, and services that will enhance the Nation's resiliency to coastal flooding. The Storm Surge Roadmap focuses on three goals: (1) assess and predict the Total Water Level caused by coastal inundation events, (2) describe inundation as flooding above ground level, and (3) communicate actionable information.

The Storm Surge Roadmap is completing the first third of a 10 year timeline. Enhancements have been made to products and services, and groundwork has been laid for longer-term research and development. Accomplishments already achieved are described in the following projects. In order to improve the assessment of the Total Water Level caused by coastal inundation events, several modeling-related projects are underway. First, the Roadmap is collaborating on a coastal modeling testbed sponsored by the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) that is evaluating surge and wave models within a common framework; the outcome of this testbed will inform NOAA about the costs and benefits of transitioning these models to operations. Additionally, tides have been added to NOAA's operational storm surge model (SLOSH), and the ADCIRC model has been implemented to combine the prediction of extratropical surges with tides. NOAA also has a nearshore wave prediction modeling system in development that will be coupled with the coastal circulation model ADCIRC in order to combine surge, wave, and tide prediction. Finally, NOAA is researching ensemble storm surge predictions in order to calculate uncertainty for inundation predictions. In order to better convey flood prediction, NOAA has created new graphical hurricane storm surge inundation maps based upon probabilistic surge predictions that reflect forecast uncertainty. NOAA is also focused on improving coastal inundation information; social scientists are assessing users' understanding of storm surge risk, and are developing new products that improve the communication of inundation risk. Finally, a NOAA-wide web site that describes storm surge and NOAA's products and services is being developed.

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