Geospatial Analysis and Modeling

Analysis and modeling of urban dynamics

3706.3 - Predicting Urban Damage from Tropical Storms and Hurricanes in the Caribbean

Monday, July 3
4:50 PM - 5:10 PM
Location: Maryland A

Due to gradual increases in the temperature of the oceans, the incidence and severity of extreme weather in the form of tropical storms and hurricanes have become more prevalent in the past 10 years. Changing temperatures have contributed to surface pressure changes as well as increased evaporation from the oceans. These two factors allow scientists to identify when likely tropical storms will form, and the continually recorded pressure along with radar data allows these storms to be ranked in severity and tracked along their path until they dissipate or make landfall causing immense destruction.
While the storms can be tracked through geographically, and predictions are made as to what general areas the storm will effect when it makes landfall, it is not always known how the storms will affect the local infrastructure. Furthermore, the difficulty of modeling potentially effected localities is only compacted by a lack of knowledge of the local infrastructure—this is even more of an issue in underdeveloped countries without a robust database of existing buildings and roads. Open Street Map answers these questions for many regions, especially those that have experienced frequent damage from previous disasters. As mapping parties are mobilized to aid in the relief efforts from emergency responders working on the ground by digitizing building footprints and road networks, the data can continue to be used long after the immediate disaster and can actually be used as an input to modeling future disasters.
In this study, modeled parameters from reanalysis datasets such as the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) such as zonal and meridonal wind are used to measure wind speed and wind direction, while the surface pressure parameter can track pressure changes in advance of the movements of the storm. In addition, the recently launched Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite is used to measure precipitation rate and amounts. Combining the surface pressure, wind speed and direction with the precipitation rates allows the ability to model the impact the strong rains and winds will have on buildings, forests and ports, as the Landsat 8 surface reflectance data and Open Street Map data can be used together. This study uses a combination of automated programming and 3D modeling to predict how urban areas and in some cases, specific buildings can be impacted by tropical storms and hurricanes.

Jessica Fayne

Research Associate
University of South Carolina

Jessica is geographer and physical science remote sensing researcher. Her current research involves optical and thermal remote sensing of natural disasters and remote sensing algorithm development. Jessica seeks to use various remote sensing techniques to solve a wide range of issues arising from natural disasters, and effective cartographic techniques and visualizations to help explain very technical information to diverse audiences.


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Amanda Rumsey

Research Assistant
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Amanda is a recent graduate of Boston University studying Physical Geography, and GIS and Environmental Remote Sensing Systems. Amanda's work primarily involves the use of GIS and environmental remote sensing software to enhance end-user decision making.


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Send Email for Xiaobai Angela Yao


3706.3 - Predicting Urban Damage from Tropical Storms and Hurricanes in the Caribbean

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