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At a glance: Hurricane research at FIU


 Hurricanes are more intense. Coastal populations are growing. Increased probability of flooding due to higher storm surges and rainfall is heightening the risk for catastrophic damage to the human and built environments in the path of these killer events. Against the backdrop of these complex challenges, FIU scientists are conducting hurricane-related research with all the intensity of a Category 5 storm.

Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model
This hurricane catastrophe model is used to assess Florida's hurricane risk in order to regulate windstorm insurance rates and determine fair pricing in a state where 16 insurers failed after 1992's Hurricane Andrew and, most recently, six more after 2022's Hurricane Ian. The model was developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts in the fields of meteorology, wind and structural engineering, computer science, GIS, statistics and actuarial science. Operated by FIU and funded by the Florida Legislature, the model also evaluates the financial health of individual insurance companies and quantifies the economic benefits of mitigation efforts.

Informing forecasting by the National Hurricane Center and the Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Helping develop a storm surge database for Haiti and the Dominican Republic to support decision-making on evacuations.
Mapping and forecasting flooding in hurricane-vulnerable regions throughout the Caribbean, improving storm surge monitoring and warning for island nations and Central American coastal areas.
Protection & Mitigation
Researching the disproportion of hurricane impacts on low-income communities in South Florida as part of a $4.63M Andrew Mellon Foundation grant.
Addressing hurricane risks and developing resilience approaches in Latin America and the Caribbean through a $7.5M USAID grant.
Developing innovative technologies to erect and retrofit buildings and other civil infrastructure to withstand the impacts of stronger hurricanes and more forceful storm surge associated with climate change.

Lab-Made Storms for Building Better
FIU's Extreme Events Institute, led by Director Richard Olson, manages the Wall of Wind (WoW) – the only university-based hurricane simulator capable of generating CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE WINDS OF UP TO 157 MPH

Arindam Gan Chowdhury is director and PI of the WoW and Ioannis Zisis is co-director and co-PI. The WoW was created in 2007-08 thanks to a major investment from the State of Florida. Today it is one of only eight National Science Foundation-supported experimental facilities in the U.S. under the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure. WoW has been used for more than a decade to test construction materials in support of better performance-based design and safer building codes.

World's Most Powerful Wind-Water-Wave Research Laboratory
FIU is leading a team of top scientists and engineers from eight universities as part of a $12.8M National Science Foundation grant to design the world's most powerful wind-water-wave testing facility. The National Full-Scale Testing Infrastructure for Community Hardening in Extreme Wind, Surge, and Wave Events, or NICHE, will help scientists understand how increasingly stronger hurricanes are impacting coastal environments. When complete, the research laboratory will be capable of generating wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour combined with a water basin to simulate storm surge and wave action.

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