While atmospheric scientists seek to improve weather  prediction models, measuring the costs of extreme weather events is a much more  challenging endeavor.

Hear More From Everett JosephFlooding impacts 96 million people globally. In the U.S. alone, it causes around 89 fatalities and costs about $13.7 billion annually. Thus, accurate prediction of intense rainfall continues to be a critical scientific challenge and there remains a substantial need to better understand the decision-making risk and response during extreme events.

To address this challenge, U.S. Senators from New York Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the University at Albany would receive approximately $4.5 million in federal funding. The University’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) knew what needed to happen to conquer this challenge: develop better methods for quantifying trends in weather extremes on a much larger scale than current models provide.

Everette Joseph
Everette Joseph, director of ASRC

The funding, allocated through the National Science Foundation Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) program, supports a U.S.-Taiwan consortium to conduct research in early warning systems and better predict the path and course of major storms.

With a focus on East Asia and the Northeastern U.S., ASRC is leading an academic research coalition that includes Howard University, National Central University (Taiwan), National Taiwan University and Academia Sinica (Taiwan). ASRC is also working closely with disaster and weather forecast agencies in Taiwan and the U.S., such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service and National Severe Storm Laboratory, the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Central Weather Bureau – Taiwan, and the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction – Taiwan.

"We need to increase the resiliency of communities by decreasing vulnerability and exposure through better disaster management and adaptation."

ASRC is taking a multi-pronged approach through the U.S.-Taiwan PIRE Consortium. "We need to increase the resiliency of com-munities by decreasing vulnerability and exposure through better disaster management and adaptation,” said Dr. Everette Joseph, director of ASRC. “Through this partnership, we are striving to better quantify trends in weather extremes through in-depth investigations of past events and influences from large-scale global circulation patterns and changes in local environmental conditions."

The critical tools are in development, underscored by the state-of-the-art New York State Mesonet system.

"Once fully deployed, Mesonet will allow us to dramatically improve real-time monitoring of events and short-term prediction," said Dr. Joseph. One hundred twenty-five stations are expected to be completed and online by year-end 2016.

Mesonet Schuylerville Tower
Mesonet Schuylerville Tower

In addition, educating the next generation of climate scientists specializing in decision-making and probabilistic forecasting is a key goal. To that end, ASRC and UAlbany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

(DAES) are engaged in recruiting undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral researchers to the PIRE project. The project will provide training and integrate the research gathered through the U.S.-Taiwan project.

“Extreme weather resiliency demands improved weather and climate prediction and response strategies to strengthen the protection of life and property,” said Dr. Joseph. “The U.S.-Taiwan partnership will prepare a new generation of U.S.-Taiwanese atmospheric and social scientists and practitioners with disciplinary and interdisciplinary academic and research experiences geared around extreme weather and resiliency.”