For over 20 years my work has been documenting the predictive skill gained by coupling together models of the air and sea. These benefits accrue across a multitude of scales - from global to mesoscale to urban/neighborhood scales. And linking in models of the city further augments these advantages on local scales.
The growth of urban infrastructure at the water's edge is attended by resiliency issues. Most major cities are now located in coastal zones that are increasingly squeezed by compound flooding generated by rainfall-enhanced river flows in concert with storm surge. This necessitates a representation of hydrology and land surface processes at the urban scale in order to improve prediction. Cities also experience the most extreme impacts of heatwaves. It is clear that these hazards are expanding under our changing climate, making these issues even more pressing.
History has shown that women and children are the most vulnerable populations during disasters, and other circumstances when security is imperiled. No mother should ever drown carrying her child to safety in a predictable flood event, as happened in Houston recently. Our society has a challenge to ensure that this never happens again.
It is time to mount a prediction capability that delivers actionable forecasts accounting for urban land/weather/ocean/river processes so as to anticipate impacts at the neighborhood scale, near the water's edge, in advance of the threat. Engagement with the emergency response community ensures that the forecasts are site-specific and accurate, and can warn populations in an effective and timely manner.
To do this requires effort across the scientific community to link models derived from different disciplines and to seek out high-fidelity data inputs across all scales. To make these systems maximally useful they must be deployed on easily configurable flexible platforms in the cloud, and utilize open source codes so vulnerable communities worldwide have access to the tools. Students need to be trained to make connections across disciplines and utilize the next generation computing capabilities and tools.
My projects and activities align with this vision.