NSF backs NYIT team’s critical climate-change mission

Coming soon: If you live in a coastal region, it's virtually unavoidable -- so a team of NYIT researchers is trying to predict where, when and how climate change will strike next.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

With irrefutable scientific data confirming the global climate change crisis, a New York Institute of Technology research team is supporting a multinational effort to digitally forecast “extreme environmental conditions.”

Backed by a National Science Foundation grant and in cahoots with scientists across Germany and Austria, researchers at NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and School of Architecture and Design are creating a 3D data-modeling tool known as IN-SOURCE.

The three-year project aims to create a software tool that simulates and visualizes various environmental conditions and stressors. The idea is to help planners and responders understand how different scenarios affect food-, energy- and water-distribution networks and urban infrastructure, particularly infrastructure vulnerable to flooding and other extreme-weather conditions.

Including the multi-year NSF grant (to date, $121,923), IN-SOURCE now has a three-year budget exceeding $1.7 million. The NYIT team joins an international consortium that also includes researchers from the City University of New York; Austria’s Institute of Social Ecology and the Austrian Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy; the University of Applied Sciences and the Centre for Sustainable Energy Technology, both in Stuttgart, Germany; and other German stakeholders, including a municipality and a private engineering firm.

The NYIT squad is anchored by principal investigator Ziqian Dong, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Westbury-based School of Engineering and Computing Sciences.

Dong’s team also includes Marta Panero, director of strategic partnerships for the SECS, and Jeffrey Raven, the LEED-certified director of the School of Architecture and Design’s master’s degree program in urban and regional design.

Ziqian “Cecilia” Dong: Climate change is real, if you only have a brain.

Also on board is former School of Engineering and Computing Sciences Dean Nada Anid, who has co-authored multiple NSF synthesis reports on food/energy/water workshops. Earlier this year, Anid was promoted to NYIT’s vice president for strategic communications and external affairs.

The heavy-hitting IN-SOURCE team – further bolstered by “several undergraduate and graduate students” – has a busy and important mission ahead, with eight of the world’s 10 largest cities rising near a coastline and “the effects of climate change … stressing urban infrastructure worldwide,” according to NYIT.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, counts about 40 percent of the U.S. population within striking distance of a coastal catastrophe, with “nuisance flooding” – caused not by storm surges but the simple fact that high tide is higher than it used to be – on the rise.

And severe storms are increasing in both frequency and intensity, notes NYIT, which called 2012’s Superstorm Sandy “a wake-up call to the New York City area.”

The IN-SOURCE work is critical, according to NYIT project leader Dong, who warns that “global warming is not a scarecrow.”

“Damage from flooding has already increased noticeably in many coastal regions,” the associate professor said. “Decision-makers need help gathering and interpreting data to allow meaningful, practical interventions as soon as possible.

“This project responds to that need.”


Comments are closed.