UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss hurricane season, which begins today, June 1

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UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss hurricane season, which begins today, June 1


Faculty and researchers can provide insight on storm impact in the US and North Carolina in preparation for new season


Hurricane season officially begins today, June 1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers and faculty are available to provide insight on storm surge and flooding, water quality, beach erosion and other storm-related issues, which can help communities prepare for the upcoming season.


Carolina experts are also available to discuss recovery-related research in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which slammed into 50 counties across North Carolina in 2016. Over the past nine months, 11 different research teams mounted projects on topics from buy-out programs to coastal resilience. This interactive map breaks down how UNC-Chapel Hill researchers are helping develop plans and guide policy for future storms.


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


Rick Luettich is the director for UNC Institute for Marine Sciences in Morehead City, North Carolina and a leading global expert on storm surge. He is on the front lines when it comes to predicting a storm’s potential impact, and is one of the lead developers of ADCIRC, a system of computer programs used to predict storm surge and flooding. These prediction models are updated every few hours – the most recent model can be found here. Agencies including FEMA, NOAA, US Army Corps of Engineers, and NC DEM use Luettich’s model to assess risk, for design protection and to make decisions during storm events. Luettich can discuss coastal risk, protection and forecasting storms.


Luettich’s research and ADCIRC model 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. In 2017 the National Weather Service will be running ADCIRC during hurricanes.



Rachel Noble is a distinguished professor at the UNC Institute for Marine Sciences. Her research focuses on public health issues surrounding water quality including stormwater, drinking water and extreme conditions like those following a tropical storm or hurricane event. Her current work highlights the use of rapid tests to protect public health from waterborne diseases. Noble can discuss how to protect human health by better understanding pathogens and the risk they pose to the public, particularly after storm events.



Noble’s research and rapid method tests have been utilized on both coasts and the Great Lakes to accurately protect public health. She is currently working with US EPA on the implementation of methods to rapidly test E. coli at beaches. She is actively working with municipal wastewater agencies in California, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland on improved approaches to protect the public from contamination events in a more timely manner.



 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.





Justin Ridge is a doctoral student at the UNC Institute for Marine Sciences. Working with Institute’s Coastal Geology Lab, in partnership with Duke Marine Lab, he uses drones and other new technologies to monitor coastal environments experiencing changes caused by storms. Ridge can discuss how using drones in coastal environments provides faster, more cost effective information on storm impacts. These data are useful for community planning in light of the increasing number of storms affecting our coasts. 




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, 113 master’s, 68 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.