The evolution of the Lowcountry into a region broadly resilient to the stressors of climate change is an economic imperative. While the need for flood mitigating solutions is clear, those responsible for ensuring the equitable durability and prosperity of our communities currently do not have access to a big data approach that facilitates comparative analyses and prioritized implementation of such solutions.

This October, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) will remedy this paucity of hydrodynamic forecasting technology by unveiling their state-of-the-art 3D storm surge and coastal inundation modeling system at Envision Resilience Summit. As a leading marine research institution mission-driven to support informed decision-making on coastal resource management issues, VIMS is well-positioned, both physically and intellectually, to foster the collaborative enhancement of our region’s resilience to climate change and severe weather events.

The VIMS Team

Dr. Harry Wang and his interdisciplinary team at VIMS are currently in the final stages of engineering the SCHISM (Semi-implicit Cross-scale Hydroscience Integrated System Model) hydroscience modeling system purpose-built for the Lowcountry. This system builds upon the success of a similar tool pioneered by Dr. Wang for New York City following Hurricane Sandy. Decision makers will find significant value in this robust 3D technology’s ability to accurately predict, and allow visualization of, the impacts of extreme weather events, sea level rise, flooding, and storm surge at block level resolution of water depth, flow, and velocity. Imagine the efficacy of the decision-making process when you can leverage the power of reliable forecasting technology such as this!

Benefits for Envision Resilience Summit Attendees

Thanks to funding from the Economic Development Administration (Award #04-69-07392), VIMS and the South Carolina Aquarium (SCA) Resilience Initiative for Coastal Education have partnered together to generate and distribute the VIMS storm surge and coastal inundation modeling system to Envision Resilience Summit attendees. Intended to be leveraged by decision makers in government, corporate, military, educational institution, not-for-profit, and community leadership roles, VIMS’s powerful forecasting technology will aid strategic formulation of long-term solutions to prevent, withstand, and aid efficient recovery from the negative impacts associated with extreme weather events, nuisance flooding, and sea level rise.

Synergistic Technologies for the Public

Importantly, two synergistic technologies designed specifically for citizen education and engagement will be shared at Envision Resilience Summit in conjunction with the VIMS modeling system. The SCA’s SeaRise Viewer, developed by ROK Technologies, is a freely accessible mobile application designed to help the public visualize the potential impacts of sea level rise scenarios from 1-10 feet. Excitingly, SeaRise Viewer also enables citizens to view the boundary of the recently proposed seawall around the Charleston peninsula, in addition to providing quick access to informational resources and seamless integration with the SeaRise Citizen Science project.

Also freely accessible, the SeaRise Citizen Science project employs the Anecdata infrastructure created in partnership with MDI Biological Laboratory. Not only does this project empower individuals to be participatory in resilience planning initiatives and policies, but also the open source citizen science data will prove indispensable in validating the quantitative outputs and scenarios produced by VIMS storm surge and coastal inundation model. This innovative approach will facilitate iterative refinement of outputs produced by the supercomputer-based 3D model via ground-truthing using validated citizen images automatically augmented with NOAA weather buoy metadata. Ultimately, SeaRise Citizen Science contributions will increase the robustness and value of the VIMS model for decision makers over time.

The Value of the VIMS Modeling System for You

The state-of-the-art VIMS modeling system currently under development for the Lowcountry is a uniquely powerful forecasting technology that will revolutionize our understanding of the potential hydrological consequences of severe weather events and climate change throughout our region. There is no better time than now to collaboratively leverage a big data approach and supercomputing technological tools to innovatively and inclusively build resilient Lowcountry communities.