Planning prof leads U.S., Dutch researchers in flooding study

Sam Brody

Eric Bardenhagen

Philip Berke

Galen Newman

Interdisciplinary groups of faculty and students in five U.S. universities will pair with their counterparts in The Netherlands in a $3.6 million, five-year research project led by Sam Brody, professor of urban planning at Texas A&M, to determine how to reduce the impact of coastal flooding, the globe’s costliest and most disruptive natural hazard.

In the project, the National Science Foundation's Flood Risk Reduction Program, researchers from architectural, planning, engineering and economics disciplines will investigate why human communities are so vulnerable to flooding, the characteristics of flood risk, and which mitigation techniques are most effective in reducing the adverse impacts of flooding.

“The project will address the critical need for an inquiry that will lay a foundation for decision making aimed at increasing the resiliency of coastal communities,” said Brody, principal investigator of the National Science Foundation-funded project, in an abstract.

Brody, holder of the George Mitchell ‘40 Endowed Chair in Sustainable Coasts, also directs the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M University at Galveston and the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities’ Galveston office.

Under Brody’s guidance, U.S. universities in the FRRP will pair with Delft University in The Netherlands, a nation that has been grappling with flooding issues for centuries, to develop six case studies focusing on areas in both countries with surge-based and precipitation-driven flooding. Researchers will use data and findings produced by their studies to develop coastal flooding solutions in both countries.     

“Each case will provide a target area for interdisciplinary assessments of physical flood risk and modeling, socioeconomic characteristics, land use changes and flood mitigation techniques,” said Brody, who will also contribute to FRRP research.

Project researchers will form a network to share data, findings and mitigation methods related to the different types of flood hazards they encounter.

Interdisciplinary teams of graduate and undergraduate students, guided by project faculty, will also travel to coastal sites to conduct case study analyses informed by research-produced data and findings.

Final reports, assessments, and collected data will support ongoing research efforts of the program’s faculty, which include Eric Bardenhagen, assistant professor of landscape architecture, Philip Berke, professor of urban planning and Galen Newman, assistant professor of urban planning.

The project, an expansion of a partnership between Brody and fellow academics from Texas A&M and Delft, who developed a joint research agenda in 2013, will include students and faculty from Texas A&M University at Galveston, Jackson State University, Rice University and the University of Houston.

The FRRP is funded through the Partnerships for International Research and Education program, an NSF initiative that supports international activities in NSF-supported disciplines.

The primary goal of PIRE is to support high-quality projects that utilize international collaboration to advance research and education. PIRE seeks to catalyze a higher level of international engagement in the U.S. science and engineering community.

posted August 24, 2015