Edward S. Hyman Endowed Chair in Engineering
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
University of Texas at Austin
"Can Houston Protect Itself from Future Hurricane Storm Surges?"
In this talk, we will focus on a problem of critical importance to the future of the Houston-Galveston region and many areas in the coastal United States, namely how to develop an effective system to protect from inland flooding caused by hurricanes. This effort involves collaboration between multiple disciplines, federal, state and local agencies, and effective communication with the public. We will focus in this presentation on the scientific aspects of the problem, in particular the predictive simulation of storm surge and how numerical simulators may be used to study various proposed protection systems. Protection systems under consideration for the region include man-made structural options such as gates and levees, and natural options such as increasing wetland reserves and developing national seashores. In the talk, we will focus on recently proposed gate and levee systems and show how they might perform under hurricane scenarios similar to Hurricane Ike, and potential future hurricanes based on historical data. We will also focus on natural protection systems, in particular, we will describe new mathematical and numerical research on flow through wetlands, where we attempt to develop predictive models describing how different types of vegetation respond to highly energetic flows.