The Risks of Climate Extremes
How unusual is the current drought? Will La Niña bring more or less snow next winter? What is the risk of experiencing more extreme rainfall because of climate change? These are a small sample of queries that the applied research, outreach, and information dissemination systems of the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) are designed to address. One of six regional climate centers that comprise the NOAA Regional Climate Center Program, NRCC provides regional climate services for the United States and its Territories and satisfies broader national needs that transcend regional boundaries. Housed at Cornell University, the center has increasingly provided national leadership in the development of data dissemination systems, climate data-user interfaces, and applied climatological products.
Led by Arthur T. DeGaetano, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and director of the NRCC, this grant will help sustain and improve the significant information systems of the center. The ability to actively gather and respond to current and emerging climate data and information issues is paramount, and with the recommendations of climatologists, the NRCC is working to identify dataset and data-product development needs to support climate monitoring and climate service operations. With the help of NRCC information technologists, the grant will also support continuing efforts to store, analyze, and disseminate findings.
Particular focus of the grant is to advance research and development in water resources, critical infrastructure, and resiliency to extremes—areas the center has already established as its strengths. The NRCC has developed specialized extreme rainfall tools for water-resource planning in New York State, New York City, New England, and Atlantic Canada. Using both historical rain data and projections of future rainfall, they have developed three prototype tools to refine and expand during the grant period. One tool combines rainfall data and a simple hydrological model with a Google Map interface that will allow states and local government officials to identify undersized culverts. In partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as well as New York City, the NRCC will also catalogue and quantify the vulnerability of existing infrastructure to increased rainfall extremes.