Hawaii & Alaska
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AK - Researchers Aim to Improve Coastal Storm Surge Forecasting

Collaborative report, depending on how well models perform, will be out in a year or two

As winter approaches every year residents of coastal western Alaska brace for severe storms, relying on weather forecasters to give them adequate warning in isolated communities, where sudden storms have caught many off guard and at times led to death.

Now the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) in Anchorage is collaborating with other researchers to build a coupled storm surge and wave operational forecasting capability for western Alaska.

The collaborative partnership, led by the University of Notre Dame, also includes Axiom Data Science LLC, NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, The University of Michigan’s Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, and the University of Texas at Austin. It is funded by a grant from the Integrated Ocean Observing System.

Notre Dame was awarded a three-year grant for Building Coupled Storm Surge and Wave Operational Forecasting Capacity for Western Alaska.

The ultimate goal of the AOOS modeling advancement effort is to deliver an improved coupled surge, wave and ice forecasting capacity to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Protection and NOAA National Ocean Service Coastal Survey Development Lab.

“The project is working on effects of multiple factors,” said Carol Janzen, operations manager at AOOS, who holds a doctorate in physical oceanography from the University of Delaware. “Storm surge is caused by wind affects on water. This model is trying to improve the existing forecast model by adding variables that modify the coastal storm surge."

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