Trees, Tempests, and Time: What trees can tell us about weather in the past

For storms along the Gulf Coast, first-person recordings are only reliable for the past 150 years. But knowing more about when storms happened in the past helps us understand how the climate is changing and how to reduce storm risks for coastal communities. To do that, we have to use even more unusual records: tree rings.

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Is climate change increasing the number of hurricanes we get and will we continue seeing more hurricane damage?

Recent climate change science has shown that since 500 AD the current levels of storm activity are the most active. The increased activity combined with rising sea levels has the potential to cause more damage than ever before. Although Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever recorded storm, stronger than Sandy and Katrina combined, occurred in the Pacific, the Atlantic can see events similar in the future.

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Summertime Sadness: Hurricanes and Water Quality

Hurricanes are natural disasters that can turn water quality nasty! Just how nasty depends on what’s on the land that’s being flooded. Hurricane Fran (1996) struck the Cape Fear region in southeastern North Carolina, and researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington noticed dissolved oxygen plummeted as a result of swamp water and swine farm waste flooding. The lack of oxygen in the water caused widespread death of fish and critters living in the bottom of the rivers, not to mention all that sewage introduced bacteria and disease into the environment! Swamp water flooding may be a natural, unavoidable consequence of hurricanes, but we must have policies and practices in place to reduce further degrading water quality from human activities.

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Following a Coastal Geologic Hazards course in Rhode Island

Coastal communities are impacted by hazards such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and beach erosion. Geologists reconstruct past events to understand future events. Follow along as a University of Rhode Island geology class explores coastal geologic hazards.

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Why coastal flood maps are wrong: the tale of compound hazards

Coastal flooding is expected to increase in frequency due to future sea level rise and more extreme weather, but most coastal flood hazards maps do not portray the increase risk. We dive deeper into how these maps are made and uncover why the current flood hazard maps may be misleading.

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Can New Jersey Marshes just “Fuhgettabout” Superstorm Sandy?

After a storm that left 149 people dead and thousands without homes, how could New Jersey coastal wetlands have possibly survived Hurricane Sandy basically unscathed? To find out how these protective ecosystems made it through the storm, we may need to look a little bit below the surface. Most of us know about “Jersey Tough”, but how many knew that applied to the salt marshes, too?

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Can the structure of a hurricane make it wobble?

Hurricanes are among the most dangerous natural disasters, but they can still be a challenge to forecast!  In particular, it’s really difficult to understand how a hurricane’s structure – that is, its specific pattern of clouds, winds, and rain – can affect its motion.  In a recent theoretical modeling study, Konstantin Menelaou and his co-authors have examined how one particular kind of hurricane structure, known as a secondary eyewall, can make a hurricane wobble.

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