UConn professor explains how future climate change could cause intense storms, floods during Provost’s Distinguished Speaker Series 


Dr. Emmanouil Anagnostou, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Eversource Energy Center at UConn, warned the audience of the dramatic effects that climate change and extreme storms could have on Connecticut in the future during a lecture at Konover Auditorium Wednesday evening, as part of the Provost’s Distinguished Speaker Series.  

In his lecture, Dr. Anagnostou explained that his team of researchers are able to predict the effects of future “synthetic storms” through a new form of computer modeling. To show this, Anagnostou put Hurricane Sandy in a model which predicted the climate in 2050. This model predicted a warmer ocean and higher sea level.  

The computer simulation showed that if Hurricane Sandy had occurred under these conditions, the flooding that came from it would have been much worse and would cover much more area. Also, the floods would be deeper, increasing from three meters deep to four meters.  

“Infrastructure would be underwater. A lot of communities would be underwater,” Dr. Anagnostou explained. He said that while these severe storms may be less frequent, they will probably be more intense in the future.  

“Extremes seem to intensify,” he said when describing his computer simulations. 

Dr. Anagnostou also said that his models show potential droughts and forest fires in Connecticut, indicating that the climate here could have a major shift in the coming years.  

He described how his team is working on a way to map floods from severe storms in real time to help emergency response teams. This type of radar is called Radar Produced Inundation Diary (RAPID) and uses microwaves to look through storm clouds and see the floods.  

Anagnostou also talked about how his work with modeling can help predict the amount of crops that will be grown each year in countries such as Ethiopia. Using groundwater modeling, their team can tell how many crops can be grown based on soil moisture and reservoir level data. This data can help people in Ethiopia know where to grow crops for the maximum crop yields. 

“Improving food security is important for us,” said Anognostou.  

He also described how his team is trying to improve precipitation prediction by combining their computer modeling with satellite data. He said that since satellite prediction data often underestimates the amount of rain that will fall in an area, combining it with computer modeling will make it more accurate. He hopes to develop the technology to allow this to happen in real-time, so that people can get the accurate prediction data right away.   

Dr. Anognostou said that this is a “challenging problem,” but he hopes that him and his team will be able to solve it soon. 

William Taylor, a PhD environmental engineering student in attendance at the talk, was impressed at the importance of Dr. Anognostou’s work.  

“I appreciated how it showed the work can blend together and paint a bigger picture,” said Taylor in regards to Anognostou’s research. 

Ben Crnic is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at benjamin.crnic@uconn.edu

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