SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Thanks to a federal grant, University of Rhode Island ocean engineers and researchers in four other New England coastal states can continue to explore ways to protect shorelines.
URI’S team has been studying for decades how rising sea levels and destructive storms are threatening the state’s coastline.
According to a news release from URI, Rhode Island, through URI and the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, is among five New England states that received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Coastal Management.
URI and CRMC received $110,000 of the $890,000 awarded.
The five-state project will focus on forecasting, outreach and planning activities encouraging designs to protect the coast.
Malcolm Spaulding, professor emeritus of ocean engineering at URI and founder of Spaulding Environmental Associates, will oversee management of the regional forecasting effort. At URI, Reza Hashemi, an assistant professor of ocean engineering, will lead research on the high-resolution forecasting model for state waters.
Results will help emergency staff and community and statewide planners respond to storms and make coasts more resilient, he said.
Others participating in the project are the University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine.
The URI team will use Spaulding’s computer-based program called STORMTOOLS. It gives property owners, and cities and towns a better understanding of flood risks by using graphics and satellite images to create maps that show water levels for 25-year, 50-year and 100-year storms and sea-level rise of 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 feet. The maps have recently been adopted by the CRMC.
“Rhode Island is seeing increasing storm and flooding events as a result of climate change and sea-level rise, and the Northeast is seeing this at a more intense rate than the rest of the country,” Grover Fugate, executive director of the CRMC said in a statement. “It’s of the utmost importance that our cities and towns be prepared for these events, not only to know in advance where they need to place their emergency response infrastructure and personnel, but also to know how these storm events will impact their communities.”