UCF ex­perts work to pre­dict ex­treme change in sea level

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Kevin Spear ks­[email protected] or­lan­dosen­tinel.com

Two UCF ex­perts are de­vel­op­ing a method of pre­dict­ing “ex­treme sea level changes” by com­bin­ing weather, cli­mate and tidal data.

Pub­lish­ing their most re­cent find­ings Tues­day in the jour­nal “Na­ture Sci­en­tific Data,” Ma­munur Rashid and Thomas Wahl are de­vel­op­ing an in­di­ca­tor that takes into ac­count tidal­gauge data and ma­jor weather and ocean forces af­fect­ing ex­treme sea lev­els along the na­tion’s coasts.

“What this in­di­ca­tor does, which other in­di­ca­tors do not show, is how weather and cli­mate forces in­ter­act with pre­dictable tides to make up high sea lev­els that can be po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous,” said Wahl, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in UCF’s De­part­ment of Civil, En­vi­ron­men­tal and Con­struc­tion Engi­neer­ing and a mem­ber of the univer­sity’s Na­tional Cen­ter for In­te­grated Coastal Re­search.

The researcher­s’ goal is for the in­di­ca­tor to one day al­low pre­dic­tions of when and where ex­treme sea level changes will oc­cur.

“Hope­fully, at some point such in­for­ma­tion can help guide the de­vel­op­ment of sus­tain­able coastal adap­ta­tion plans,” said Rashid, a post­doc­toral re­search as­so­ciate in the same de­part­ment and the study’s lead writer.

The researcher­s found that fac­tors vary be­hind ex­treme sea-lev­els changes at, for ex­am­ple, Cedar Key along Florida’s Gulf of Mex­ico coast, Jack­sonville near Florida’s At­lantic coast and Port­land, Maine.

“Know­ing these dif­fer­ences can aid pol­icy mak­ers in de­vis­ing coastal re­siliency strate­gies,” Rashid said.

The re­search was funded by the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Cli­mate Ob­ser­va­tions and Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gram.

Wahl earned his doc­tor­ate in civil engi­neer­ing from the Univer­sity of Siegen, Ger­many, and joined UCF in 2017. Rashid earned his doc­tor­ate in wa­ter engi­neer­ing from the Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia, and joined UCF in 2018.

KEVIN SPEAR/OR­LANDO SEN­TINEL

UCF ex­perts are de­vel­op­ing a tool for pre­dict­ing sea rise.

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