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Tag Archives: Natural Hazards

Completed: How Can We Make Our Communities More Resilient?

Aug 15, 2014 Posted by :   cfleming No Comments

Who We Are

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The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has opened a National Disaster Resilience Competition to propagate new ideas regarding natural disasters and resiliency for areas that have a history of vulnerability to floods, earthquakes, super storms, drought, heat waves, and high winds. The National Competition calls for applications from any of the 67 states with counties that have been affected by a Presidentially Declared Major Disaster within the past three years (2011, 2012 or 2013).



What We Aim To Achieve

This year-long competition is broken into two phases: phase one calls for broad risk assessments, brainstorming of potential collaborations for different stake holders and proposals for multi-level fixes for disaster relief and community benefits and is open until 3 November 2014. Phase two focuses on details and action which involve HUD helping with reviewing, facilitating access to webinars and resources, and assisting with grants for the implementation of the selected proposals.

Submission Deadline: 3 November 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.24.39 PMTo learn more about how your community can earn $1 billion towards disaster management and planning click here . Applicants have until 3 November 2014 to submit proposals for consideration.


Weather Forecasting in India and Bangladesh

Jul 17, 2014 Posted by :   raj pandya No Comments

How you say ‘1.5 inches’ can save a life. It can save packages of seeds and herds of cattle. The language used to deliver a forecast is important. The timing of when these forecasts are given is equally important for people that are affected by extreme weather. In places like Bangladesh and India, the communities usually only have two to three day’s warning, leaving them vulnerable and unable to prepare for floods or monsoons.

Peter Webster’s research uses multiple forecasts to give up to 10 days advance warning of a storm based on probability.

How this probability is explained, along with when it is given, has the potential to save lives during destructive weather. With the use of probability based forecasts, instead of reacting to weather trends, people can make proactive and informed decisions on when and how to evacuate.


South and East Asian countries like Bangladesh and India are vulnerable to floods, droughts, and other forms of extreme weather. Millions of residents are affected both directly and indirectly when fertile areas are flooded. These floods kill cattle, leave people homeless, and destroy agricultural supplies. Farmers buy their agricultural supplies (seeds, tools, etc.) with loans, and when those supplies (and crops) are destroyed in a flood or monsoon, the farmers and their families are subjected to generations of debt. On average, these super storms can cause 1 billion USD in damage. Using probabilistic forecasts can provide more time for planning and evacuation. The only time my family needed to prepare for a storm was during the recent hurricane Sandy. The advance warning allowed friends and neighbors to stock up on foods and move inland. Although I was out of town for the storm itself, the weather report used terms that could be easily understood which helped during preparation. The terms used by the local weather reporter to describe Hurricane Sandy could not be used to describe an upcoming storm in Ahmedabad, India.

Instead, the forecast needs to be presented in culturally relative terms.

For example, saying “enough rain to reach your doorstep” as opposed to “1.5 inches of rain” makes all of the difference.


Peter Webster learned that as an outsider, it is nearly impossible to come into a new place and introduce your ideas and plans without collaboration. He compared it to a social worker going into one’s home and telling the leader of the household how to better manage things. Since every culture has their own way of doing things, getting them to change is nearly impossible as an outsider.

Working with new cultures to better understand them and involve them into the solution is what community science is all about.

This includes building a sense of trust, taking time to understand the long term needs of the community, and making sure that the proposed solution can be properly applied without the researchers. This is about working with people, not for them.
In the end, I don’t believe that we are required to submit to weather patterns and natural disasters. There will be natural disasters and extreme weather, but with preparation there can be less loss involved with these occurrences. In places like Bangladesh and India, having more time to prepare for the storms is the difference between life and death, as well as millions of dollars in damages.

Drought Identification on a Meso-scale

Aug 12, 2013 Posted by :   raj pandya No Comments


Who We Are 

The Barren River Area Development District (BRADD) focuses on the Barren River and Green River, which drain the area into to large flood control/recreation lakes in the region: the Barren River Lake in the southern part and Nolin River Lake to the north. A major component of the services of the BRADD is regional water and wastewater resource management and planning. Through the Water Management Council (WMC), an advisory planning body to the BRADD Board, expertise is provided regarding water and wastewater issues. Working with the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA), the BRADD coordinates the implementation of regional strategies to assure the provision of potable drinking water and wastewater services to all residents.

What We Aim to Achieve

Public officials, water suppliers and citizens, operating through state guidelines established for the process, work together to ensure that available water is best used to meet the area’s needs. As a Thriving Earth Exchange project, the BRADD project will be implemented to help support the local regional water planning. In this context, the goal of this project is to seek help in developing methods to identify drought at the meso-scale and its variations, especially as it applies in the Kentucky Barren River Area Development District. We also suggest that with successful development of the methods, its implementation in KY will prepare us for its potential application in other local communities across the country.

Why is it Important?

Drought has become a serious challenge in many parts of the world, including in the US.  The increasing demand for water by a growing global population and climate change has further exacerbated this problem. It is essential that societies make better decisions in water resources management for efficient use of water under ‘normal’ condition, and particularly during drought events. Many drought monitoring products are suitable for assessing drought at larger-scale. However, one of the many facets of a drought related challenge is the identification of drought at a smaller local scale (meso-scale), and its variations. This limitation also affects local-level drought related decision making, including in agriculture and water resources management.

Instead of relying on generalized reports issued at the regional level, water resource managers would like to use higher resolution monitoring on which to base decision making for the water needs associated with their specific water basin. This flexibility will provide opportunities for a tailored solution to local water resource management. It could also be beneficial in the prevention of unnecessary water restrictions imposed on community systems that have received localized precipitation recorded by the Kentucky Mesonet.


Get Involved

This project is now looking for funding to take it to the next stage. For more details on how to back this project visit:


Phase I Complete 

Prize: $2000 for the selected solution in Phase 1

Challenge ID: TEX2013-101 (PDF Version)


The Barren River winds its way through south-central Kentucky. Credit: BRADD

The Barren River winds its way through south-central Kentucky. Credit: BRADD (Click to enlarge)

The Kentucky Barren River Area Development District (BRADD) would like to develop a methodology to solve the challenges associated with meso-scale drought identification and its variations in the Barren River Area. Local water resource decision makers will be supported through the development of these methods. The use of existing datasets, such as the KY Mesonet is encouraged.

Phase 1: Request for Approach

(Solution Submission open for 45 days, Judging for 15 days)

Propose a user interface and describe the technical processes and computer programming necessary to create that user interface in order to assist water managers and other technical users in monitoring drought conditions in the Barren River Area Development District at the meso scale using environmental datasets.

Phase 2: Prototype

(Only available to solution(s) selected in Phase 1)

Build a prototype of a working interface, along with all necessary instructions, so that local water managers and other technical users can reliably monitor drought conditions at the meso scale. The winning solution from Phase 1 will be used as the basis to raise funds to support Phase 2.

Solution Requirements

  1. Use of datasets: Solutions should incorporate datasets that are accessible for free/minimal cost.
  2. Spatial resolution: Preference will be given to solutions using in situ observations. Maximum acceptable scale will be 32 km grid sizes.
  3. Temporal resolution: Preference will be given to solutions that update data in real-time or near-real-time. Maximum acceptable temporal resolution will be daily updates of data from the datasets.
  4. Projected ease of use: Solutions must include a mock-up of proposed user interface for judges to view.
  5. Use of proprietary technology: Preference will be given to solutions proposing to use open-source or low-cost technologies for building the user interface.
  6. Projected cost to build a prototype of the proposed solutions: Solutions must include a budget.
  7. Potential to transfer the solution to other communities: Preference will be given to solutions that can be used in other regions with similar environmental datasets.

Composition of Judging Team

  1. Two representatives from the Barren River Area Development District (BRADD)
  2. One Kentucky-based scientist designated by BRADD
  3. One scientist with mesonet experience
  4. One communications specialist