Regional Research Projects
The Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant programs in 2008-2009 funded nearly $700,000 in two regional research projects dealing with hazard resilience. One project studied what made businesses able to reopen after Hurricane Katrina in order to help agencies after future disasters better allocate assistance to businesses. Another project, aimed at making buildings safer during storms, studied the use of a fiber reinforced polymer connection mechanism to make buildings less likely to fail from stress due to high winds.
Because the first round of regional research funding was so successful, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program joined the Sea Grant regional research effort as a partner and helped support two more projects in 2010-11. In one of the projects, a legal research team will determine how takings laws (which involve a government entity, private person or corporation taking ownership of land for the public good) may apply to sea-level rise. In the other project, scientists will create a storm-surge and wave model that also factors in sea-level rise.
Modeling business return in New Orleans after Katrina.
Researchers will develop models for post-Hurricane Katrina business return in New Orleans. By developing models and using first-hand survey data set collected after the storm, her findings could be useful in planning and policy development for economic recovery in the Gulf of Mexico. The models also will be beneficial to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Louisiana Recovery Authority and local planning agencies.
Development of a load-transfer mechanism to reduce hurricane-induced building failures.
Under hurricane-strength winds, the nails, plates, screws and clips that fasten roofs and walls together often weaken a home’s structural integrity, leading to partial or total collapse. This project successfully developed and tested a high-performance, fiber-composite connection system that provides greater structural strength. The system can be used in new construction as well as to retrofit older buildings, and the building industry and communities are looking to consider its use in hurricane-prone regions.
Implications of takings law in planning for sea-level rise.
Lawyers will use traditional methods of legal research and writing, including the review of statutory, judicial, regulatory and other legal materials, in the areas of eminent domain, regulatory takings law, environmental law and land-use planning law to develop innovative policies for adaptation to sea-level rise in the Gulf of Mexico. Even assuming the conservative estimates of sea-level rise, there is alarming potential for causing physical and economic harm to millions of people in the region, yet no Gulf States have implementable, meaningful policies or regulations directly addressing sea-level rise. Local government regulators, planners and attorneys will benefit from the legal analyses and recommendations developed in this project, as well as from innovative land-use planning tools that will be created.
A climate-change projection model for hurricane flooding, wave action, economic damages and population dynamics.
Scientists will aim to help improve management and decision-making regarding future development and engineering protection along the Gulf of Mexico by providing a model for storm surge and waves that accounts for sea-level rise. This project also will predict the economic impact of climate changes at three sites along the Gulf and provide local governments with a tool to help them make decisions in terms of financial and social costs related to climate change at individual, neighborhood, local and regional levels. The project also will create a hurricane simulator game for K-12 students. (more information)