RENCI chief scientist wins DHS award


Rick Luettich’s ADCIRC model showing storm surge on the North Carolina coast.

Rick Luettich, RENCI chief scientist for coastal studies and director of the Center of Excellence for Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management at UNC Chapel Hill received the 2010 Science and Technology Impact Award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Rick Luettich

Rick Luettich

Luettich, also director of UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, was recognized for his work on the ADCIRC storm surge and inundation model.  The model, developed by Luettich, shows the effects of storm surge caused by coastal storms, including water heights and inundation in coastal cities and river basins. Luettich’s work with RENCI includes adapting ADCIRC so that it can model surge along the North Carolina coast.

ADCIRC has been used by RENCI to help develop new coastal floodplain maps for North Carolina and will help the state understand the possible impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities. ADCIRC also contributes to surge and flooding forecasts along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas and helps the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers make decisions about emergency planning, mitigation and recovery.

The award was presented on March 11 during the 4th Annual DHS University Network Summit in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes the utility and applicability of research projects to real-world problems and their positive impact on national security.

For more on Luettich’s work, see the story Supermodels or the video Storm Surge, Computer Modeling of Hurricanes.