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New Tool Prepares Rhode Island for Rising Seas

A new mapping tool shows the potential devastation along the Rhode Island coast caused by rising waters from climate change and storm surges.
December 7, 2016, 6am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Artur Staszewski

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council have developed a new mapping tool that models potential flooding damage from rising seas and the storm surge from potentially deadly hurricanes. Alex Kuffner of the Providence Journal writes that the new mapping tool known as CERI (short for Coastal Environmental Risk Index)combines Google Earth data along with a pre-existing mapping software knows as StormTools to give users a predictive model of what would happen in different scenarios, including a strike by a 100 year storm. The tool further combines data about existing housing along the coast with estimates of damage from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The maps incorporate information on housing structures from Rhode Island’s E-911 emergency response database, which not only pinpoints houses using satellite information but also divides them into general categories: with basement or without, elevated or not, one story or two, and so on.

The results of the simulations from CERI are impacting how towns along the coast plan ahead for potentially damaging flooding. The director of planning for Warwick, RI says that the data could influence how emergency response is managed and the requirement for height of future homes above grade.

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Published on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 in Providence Journal
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