Extreme Climate Events

Extreme Events in a Changing Climate

To continue to refine our knowledge of the physical climate while meeting stakeholder-identified needs, this research theme builds upon SCIPP’s ongoing work by examining reductions in freeze events, impacts of heat stress on emergency room visits, stalling hurricanes, storm surge, changes in precipitation patterns, impacts of sea-level rise, and the redistribution of population resulting from hurricane impacts.

Quantifying Extreme Rainfall using the Storm Precipitation Analysis System

Investigator(s): Vincent Brown, Charles Simson
Research Dates: 2021
Affiliate Organization(s): Louisiana State University

To better understand the spatiotemporal pattern of extreme precipitation events, SCIPP will continue its collaboration with Applied Weather Associates (AWA) (e.g., Keim et al. 2018; Brown et al. 2020b) to create a database of extreme precipitation events across the U.S. (SPAS). AWA has supplied SCIPP with ~800 unique depth-area-duration (DAD) tables for > 500 extreme precipitation events across the U.S from 1810–2019. The storms analyzed by SPAS are generally the largest precipitation events that have occurred in the U.S. in the observational record and control probable maximum precipitation estimates in the country. DAD tables from each storm will be compiled into one database and metadata, such as location (lat./lon.), date, duration, storm type (synoptic characteristics), and magnitude, will be included. This will enable SCIPP to query the database and investigate the spatiotemporal patterns of extreme precipitation analyzed by SPAS.

Reduction in Freezing Temperatures and Tropicalization of Temperate Climates

Investigator(s): Vincent Brown, Barry Keim
Research Dates: 2021
Affiliate Organization(s): Louisiana State University

SCIPP will build on pre-existing partnerships with water utilities in the Gulf Coast, as well as with the USGS National Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, to determine how climatic changes to extreme low temperatures and freeze return intervals have changed over the last century. We will investigate changes in mean winter temperature, the single coldest temperature recorded each winter, and the frequency of days per winter with temperatures at or below 0°C (i.e., the number of freeze days) to determine how winters have changed. A return interval analysis on the number of events with temperatures below 0°C will be performed at each site using a 30-year moving window. Results of the climate analysis will be compared with observed changes to species, ecosystems, and biomes using data from the National Wetlands Center to determine how sensitive they are to changes in extreme cold temperatures.

Sea-Level Rise Engagement Along the U.S. Gulf Coast

Investigator(s): Vincent Brown
Research Dates: 2021
Affiliate Organization(s): Louisiana State University

Engagement with coastal stakeholders will be conducted based on a recently updated sea-level rise manuscript to communicate the latest science and its implications for stakeholders. This will extend work that was produced through a previously completed NOAA Coastal and Oceans Climate Applications (COCA) grant. Interested coastal stakeholder groups include floodplain managers, water utilities, and city, county, and parish planning officials. SCIPP will leverage current partners (e.g., Louisiana Sea Grant, Mississippi- Alabama Sea Grant, Texas Sea Grant) and groups (e.g., Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Gulf of Mexico Community of Practice) to disseminate updated estimates, data, information, and resources outlined in the manuscript.

Forced Retreat of Coastal Populations

Investigator(s): Barry Keim, Amy Wold
Research Dates: 2021
Affiliate Organization(s): Louisiana State University

This study will examine the redistribution of South Louisiana population over the past 20 years. While Katrina’s impacts were in southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, the other three hurricanes affected southwestern Louisiana, and some of Ike’s majorly impacted area included eastern Texas. The surge magnitudes of both Katrina and Rita led to a large number of individuals leaving New Orleans and the surrounding area for various periods, including permanently (Fussell et. al. 2014; Plyer 2011). We will examine population census statistics at the county and parish level for the coastal zone from Galveston County, Texas to Mobile County, Alabama to assess changes over time from 2000 to present. We will also conduct a survey assessing the decision making processes of inhabitants that both returned to the coast and those that did not. We will examine demographic data to assess ethnicity/race, socioeconomic status, levels of education, etc., and how these parameters have changed since Hurricane Katrina.

Assessing and Promoting Awareness of Heat Stress through Wet Bulb Globe Temperature

Investigator(s): Derek Thompson, Darrian Bertrand
Research Dates: 2021
Affiliate Organization(s): Louisiana State University • University of Oklahoma • Louisiana Department of Health

This project has two goals. The first is to develop an estimated national WBGT climatology. The second is to determine if there is a relationship between WBGT and hospitalizations and emergency department visits in Louisiana. The first goalwill be accomplished by calculating estimated WBGT, utilizing gridded data sets, such as ERA5-Land (Muñoz Sabater 2019), for the U.S. between 1990 and 2020. Additional analyses will include descriptive statistics, trend analyses, and data visualizations. The second goal will utilize the estimated WBGT alongside parish-level data from the Louisiana Department of Health. Statistical analyses of the relationship between WBGT and health data will include correlation, regression, and spatial analysis techniques, when applicable.

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