AER Leads Research Initiative to Provide More Comprehensive View of Future Coastal Floods

LEXINGTON, Mass., September 21, 2015Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), the award-winning environmental research and development company, has led the development of an innovative, broadly applicable methodology for analyzing future coastal floods. AER is a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq:VRSK) business.

As businesses and governments plan for climate change, scientists and catastrophe modelers are searching for better approaches to quantify both changes in storminess and increases in the baseline sea level. Until now, it’s generally been difficult for scientists to analyze both of those factors simultaneously largely because that requires fusing disparate climate processes occurring at different spatial scales.

The newly developed technique is a significant contribution because it provides a more comprehensive view of the future coastal flood hazard, in which changes are summarized using a fully probabilistic flood index. A research article implementing the new technique was published today in Nature Climate Change. The article, "Joint projections of US East Coast sea level and storm surge" highlights the East Coast, a “hot spot” of sea level rise that is also exposed to North Atlantic basin tropical cyclones. The analysis projects a dramatic increase in flood duration and magnitude, with a late 21st century flood index up to several hundred times greater than a 1986–2005 baseline period.

“While several research groups have developed projections of changes in coastal floods due to sea level rise, the influence of changes in tropical cyclones has been difficult to quantify due to their small scale and infrequent occurrence,” said Christopher M. Little, Ph.D., staff scientist at AER and lead author of the study. “By focusing on the large-scale drivers of tropical cyclones and performing the analysis over the East Coast as a whole, we were able to surmount those challenges. Now we can combine changes in sea level and storminess into the same analysis, which allows us to assess the coastal flood risk more comprehensively. Similar assessments of so-called joint hazards (for example, heat and humidity, or storm surge and rainfall-driven flooding) are critical to understanding the full scope of climate change risks.”

The article was a collaboration between Dr. Little and leading climate scientists at Columbia University, Princeton University, Rutgers University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Iowa.

About AER
Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) provides science-based solutions to global environmental challenges. AER’s internationally renowned scientists and software engineers collaborate to transform state-of-the-art predictive science and analytical tools into practical systems that address both civilian government and defense needs for geophysical understanding, computer simulation, and forecasting. AER customers include government agencies and national laboratories, aerospace and defense contractors, and academia. Areas of expertise comprise atmospheric and environmental science, remote sensing, meteorology, oceanography, space science, climate change, and software engineering. A Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq:VRSK) business, AER was established in 1977 and is headquartered in Lexington, Mass. Visit

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