Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
CoreLogic Storm Surge Report 2013 released
June 5th, 2013 by Susan Smith
CoreLogic senior hazard scientist, Dr. Thomas Jeffery, the primary author of this year’s CoreLogic Storm Surge Report, answered some questions about their research.
GISCafe Voice: Has the number of homes at risk of hurricane storm-surge damage increased since your last storm surge report was issued?
Dr. Thomas Jeffery: The number of homes at risk in the 2013 report did change from last year. In most locations, the number of homes with the potential for surge risk has increased There are two reasons for the change. Each year there is new residential construction that increases the number of homes across thecountry. New residential development has occurred near the Atlantic and Gulf coasts since 2011/2012. This new construction will add slightly to the
GISCafe Voice: Are you also taking into account changes in the coastlines in each report?
Dr. Thomas Jeffery: We do account for changes in the coastal areas. The surge risk data that is used in our annual report incorporates the current coastal boundary data which we update annually.
GISCafe Voice: What mapping sources besides FEMA are you using to gather information?
Dr. Thomas Jeffery: Most of our mapping is based on CoreLogic analysis – the FEMA data are brought in and used as a comparison with the surge risk we create. For the mapping, I don’t believe we have any other sources – the coastline data, housing data and surge analysis is all CoreLogic…though we do also use NOAA and USGS data as input data for our analysis.
GISCafe Voice: Why is it that this is the first time CoreLogic’s report addresses the potential impact of a climate-related rise in sea level on coastal storm-surge risk in a select number of metro areas?
Dr. Thomas Jeffery: Sea-level rise is part of an on-going discussion of climate change within the scientific community. Our primary research is specifically focused on the evaluation of current hazards such as hurricane driven storm surge and we do not research climate change. As such, our data are intended to reflect the current risk, which is of most value to our clients and to the public, at present. However, any discussion of natural hazard risk tends to include questions regarding future events and changes in patterns or severity. Without analyzing the actual process of climate change, we decided to investigate potential impacts of sea-level rise in order to gain a better understanding of potential for storm surge risk damage in the future. This was driven by our scientific curiosity and a desire to utilize our data in an effort to better understand what sea-level rise may mean to the future residents of coastal areas. The reason for including it at this time is more due to opportunity than anything else. We were able to devote the time and resources to it this year and since it appears to be of concern to an increasing number of people, we felt it was time to explore this topic.
GISCafe Voice: How do you foresee the future reports? Do you think that actions such as the actions taken in New Orleans to build protective levees will lessen the risk in other extreme risk areas? Will some areas remain extreme risk in
Dr. Thomas Jeffery: Future reports will continue to analyze and tabulate the potential risk from storm surge with the intent of providing a granular hazard evaluation for residents of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. We intend to continue with our property level assessment of the hazard with the intent of raising awareness of the geography of this risk.
The efforts undertaken in the New Orleans area have proven to be beneficial in reducing the risk to the residents. Hurricane Katrina identified some areas that needed enhancement and those modifications have been implemented.
We have been able to engineer our way around some of the risk that comes from natural hazards, but I doubt that we will ever see the day where risk to property is eliminated by our mitigation efforts. The whole idea of