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.
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.”