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This Forecasting Tool is Taking America by Storm



The most exciting new coastal storm tracking tool in the entire country is attracting considerable attention from a main branch of our military.


Officers from the United States Coast Guard convened last month for a special meeting staged by Dr. Austin Becker and his team of scientists


The purpose of that meeting was to expose senior leaders to a system that shows users what will happen with bad weather before it hits home.


Enter CHAMP.


The Coastal Hazards Analysis, Modeling, and Prediction program is designed to help planners make the “best decisions possible” according to Becker.


It does that by combining proprietary storm modeling applications with hazard databases to forecast impacts with remarkable accuracy. 


Those capabilities were touted in a presentation delivered to decorated officials on site by one of their own — Coast Guard Lt. Cdr. David Borbeau. 


“We can provide real-time predictions on what can happen at an individual facility,” he asserted.


Borbeau spent the past season augmenting the CHAMP development crew while moonlighting as a student at the University of Rhode Island. 


His contributions to the system have come at a time when state departments like the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency are adopting it.


The buzz being generated by CHAMP within those departments made it easy for Borbeau to see why it could solve plenty of problems for his people.


“There’s a Coast Guard capabilities gap […] and a justifiable need to incorporate something like the CHAMP system into everyday Coast Guard operational and planning decisions,” he explained.


CHAMP has evolved to fill that weather impact prediction gap with funding provided by the Department of Homeland Security through the Coastal Resilience Center.


It also harnesses the power of another product pioneered by CRC investigators — the advanced circulation tidal mapping engine known worldwide as ADCIRC.


That engine was put together largely in part by Dr. Rick Luettich, who noted the nearly unmatched utility offered by CHAMP at a staff meeting held last year.


“It’s a decision support tool that has been designed to integrate hazards and consequences to a level that is largely unavailable,” he claimed.


The way that CHAMP predicts not only coastal catastrophes but also how they affect infrastructure has helped the program take off regionally.


That growing footprint may signal a return on investment for federal lawmakers who continue to affirm financial support for the CRC.


Becker has surmised that CHAMP may become even more popular as rising sea levels force multiple agencies to revise their flood mitigation plans.


“We’re very excited to look at ways that we can scale and expand the system geographically and also with new audiences,” he affirmed.

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