Hurricane Harvey Coverage

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For Immediate Use


UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss storm-related issues


As Hurricane Harvey eyes the Texas coast, UNC-Chapel Hill researchers and faculty are among those helping communities deal with the aftermath. University experts are available to discuss the storm’s effects including flooding-related issues, water quality and possible beach erosion.


If you would like to schedule an interview with one of our experts contact our media relations team at or call our media line at (919) 445-8555.


Storm Surge Predictions



Rick Luettich is the director for UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute for Marine Sciences in Morehead City, NC. He is on the front lines when it comes to predicting a storm’s potential force. FEMA as well as state and local leaders use Luettich’s data and analysis as they assess the risk factors and determine a course of action for their communities. He is one of the lead developers of ADCIRC, a system of computer programs used to predict storm surge and flooding. Those prediction models are updated every six hours and the most recent can be found here.

Luettich’s research and data has also been used to design protection systems around New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and also New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. He is also the lead investigator of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center.



Water Quality



Hans Paerl is a professor of marine anduntitled3 environmental sciences. His area of expertise in regard to water quality is the harmful effect of toxic algae for both people and aquatic ecosystems. As we saw after Hurricane Floyd, contaminated water is prime breeding ground for algal blooms. Paerl can discuss the long-term impact of these blooms, including fish kills, as well as the different types of algae and the dangers, ranging from neurological problems to paralysis, posed by each.







untitled9Rachel Noble is a distinguished professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and also the Morehead City field site director of the Institute for the Environment. She can discuss water and the various contaminants that might be found in lakes and rivers following a storm like Hurricane Harvey. Water quality is especially a concern with flooding and also when the ground is oversaturated. Noble can discuss how those situations put stress on already taxed waste treatment systems and other infrastructure and how that also leads to water contamination.







Tony Rodriguez is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Marine Sciences. He is available to talk about the overall, immediate effect of intense storms and weather conditions as they pertain to erosion. Rodriquez can further discuss the compounding factorsover time and just how problematic storm-related erosion can become after repeated exposure to intense weather systems and an increase in sea levels.






Carter Smith is a doctoral student at the UNC Institute for Marine Sciences. She studies the benefits of living shorelines, an alternative to seawalls, as a solution to combat erosion and property loss during storms. Living shorelines are both more cost effective than seawalls in the long-term, and are ecologically more sustainable. Smith can discuss how homeowners and property managers can better protect coastal properties from hurricanes.








About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 111 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 318,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 157 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.