Full Session with Abstracts
Hurricanes are amongst the most destructive and dangerous natural disasters in the world. The US Gulf Coast is frequently affected by strong hurricane events, with very recent examples as Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017. This region is also one of the most vulnerable areas to this type of natural disaster due to the high concentrations of people living along the coast and of critical industrial activities, such as oil production. Climatologists generally agree that hurricanes are getting stronger in the current warming climate conditions, which results in an increase of expected social and economic losses for future hurricanes.
This work develops a simulation methodology to predict hurricane wind speed distributions as functions of location and climatological conditions. This model uses hurricane historical records to inform a regression analysis of hurricane characteristics versus climatological conditions at the time of the hurricane. The proposed model is validated under known climatological conditions by comparing: (1) the mean and standard deviations of the simulated wind speed distributions with the corresponding statistics of hurricane-induced winds provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), and (2) simulated design wind speed at 300, 700, and 1700 years of return periods with the corresponding ASCE 7-10 design wind speeds at different mileposts along the US Gulf Coast region. The validated hurricane wind speed distribution model is used to predict future wind speed distributions at different locations in the US Gulf Coast region under four different climate projection scenarios proposed in the 5th Assessment Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In particular, the projected changes in wind design speeds corresponding to 300, 700, and 1700 years return periods are investigated. The results obtained in this research suggest that the design wind speed for structures corresponding to risk category II would increase in the next 50 years by approximately 20% in average under the worst-case climate change projection scenario.