(note: Hurricane modification plans have quietly taken the scientific, technical, and governmental community by storm, after 2005's infamous Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and badly damaged parts of the Gulf Coast. Below are excerpts from a summary of the workshops findings, distributed by the National Science Foundation. The full document can be downloaded here: PDF)
In December 2005, the National Science Board (NSB) established a Task Force on Hurricane Science and Engineering.
To this end, the Task Force initiated a series of three workshops to explore these issues and gather information for possible future consideration by the Board.
The workshops were held on January 24, 2006 at the National Science Foundation in Arlington Virginia; on February 7, 2006 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado; and on April 18, 2006 at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Florida.
The first workshop focused on the research activities of Federal agencies while the latter two involved the same topic for academia and industry. This document summarizes key points from the three workshops
It should also be noted that the Task Force has been actively engaged in discussions with the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Advisory Board’s Working Group on Hurricane Intensity, the 60th Inter-Departmental Hurricane Conference, the National Academies Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and Congressional staff to gather additional information and coordinate with related efforts or interests
Higher resolution models are required to characterize the internal dynamics of hurricanes, which affect intensity. However, significantly increased computing capacity is needed to run such high-resolution simulations in real time. One needs to be able to perform multiple model runs in real time in order to provide sensitivity analysis to changes in the initial conditions.
There needs to be greater access to computational resources, particularly at the time of major hurricanes.
The theoretical possibility of modifying hurricanes is becoming a legitimate area for basic research. However, in order to determine if the attempted modification had the predicted effect, and to better understand potential unintended impacts, accurate forecasts are needed.
Information technology is critical in modeling hurricanes, assessing their impact, and in post disaster recovery operations. Greater computing capacity is needed to run higher resolution models and models that link meteorological models to impacts. Inter-operability of databases is critical in all areas. Sharing and integration of data across Federal, state and local agencies is key.
There needs to be a significantly greater capacity to run high resolution meteorological and hazard impact models in advance of hurricane landfall by marshalling and coordinating computing resources available outside of the National Weather Service, such as at NSF, Department of Energy, NASA and Department of Defense supercomputers.
The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act of 2004 was enacted into law. It authorizes funds for an interagency hazard reduction program led by NOAA, FEMA, NSF, and NIST. Funds have not yet been appropriated.
There is a paucity of resources spent in NOAA, NSF, and other agencies on hurricane S&E relative to the damage and national risk.
The costs associated with hurricane research and engineering are small compared to the potential and actual losses.
There needs to be a systematic, stable, and coordinated approach to hurricane research, using an integrated framework.