UCF teams with national experts to study hurricanes
By: Stephanie Sweetman

UCF faculty and students are helping the National Oceanographic Partnership Program better anticipate hurricanes.

Scott Hagen, UCF professor and director of UCF's Compaq Water Resources Simulations Laboratory, and his students are part of a team using a $5 million federal research grant to better predict storm surge. Storm surge is the amount and depth of water that surges up along the coast as a result of a tropical storm or hurricane.

Hagen said: "Currently, the storm surge forecasts are made when the eye of the hurricane is 24 hours or less from landfall. The fact that the city of Miami would require 84 hours to evacuate necessitates that a more advanced warning of the extent of flooding due to storm surge be forecast."

UCF brings experience and advanced equipment to the program. Hagen and his team have expertise in the modeling of tides and storm surge for large-scale domains. The UCF Compaq Water Resources Simulations Laboratory houses an array of high-tech equipment.

According to Hagen: "All totaled, over $250,000 worth of equipment is available in the control room alone. The main room of this computational laboratory houses numerous PC's and workstations."

The technology in the lab is not different from other cutting edge computational systems, but this equipment is usually found in a national laboratory. Hagen said, "It is unique to have access and ownership of equipment like this in a department-level, university lab."

UCF's research team will join prestigious partners such as the University of Miami, University of Florida, John-Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, IBM, NASA, the National Hurricane Center and others.

Hagen is honored to assist in this research. He said, "To work on a project of this scale and with these people is a dream come true."

Hagen believes UCF was selected because of his hard work in establishing the research program in the department of civil and environmental engineering. He said: "My department has a strong reputation in research, which is funded on federal, state and local levels. By publishing in journals and conference proceedings and giving presentations at international, national and local conferences and workshops, I've helped to promote to others what we are capable of here at UCF. My colleagues at other institutions recognize UCF for this level of production."

Hagen has the assistance of his students in the research. Student, D. Michael Parrish has decided to pursue a doctorate degree under Hagen's direction. The project will provide him with plenty of material for his dissertation. Hagen also has undergraduate and master's students who work in the lab involved with the project.

Hagen said: "We'll all learn together. Of course students who are taking my undergraduate and graduate courses will benefit as I incorporate our findings into the classroom."

The hurricane research project will continue to provide exposure for the UCF community. Hagen said, "It opens-up a new area of research that I hope will entice other students from around the globe to come here and learn with us."

Story Source: Central Florida Future

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