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Fri, Feb

Building understanding of nature’s power at water’s edge

Typography

The 2017 hurricane season is one for the record books. A seemingly relentless line of storms tore, one after another, across the Caribbean and into the Gulf Coast. Seventeen of them were strong enough to be named, with the strongest – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate – conspiring to inflict an estimated 350 deaths and some $400 billion in property damage.

 

The 2017 hurricane season is one for the record books. A seemingly relentless line of storms tore, one after another, across the Caribbean and into the Gulf Coast. Seventeen of them were strong enough to be named, with the strongest – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate – conspiring to inflict an estimated 350 deaths and some $400 billion in property damage.

“Climate change is driving sea level rise that will directly impact coastal areas,” says Ryan Mulligan, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering. “But the oceans are also getting warmer and it’s the heat energy in them that drives the intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones. The warmer the ocean, the more fuel hurricanes have, the farther north they can go, the longer in the year they can last, and the more intense they can be.”

Dr. Mulligan is a coastal engineer who specializes in waves, storms and changes to shorelines. He works closely with Queen’s civil engineering professor Andy Take to study tsunamis generated by landslides, and Queen’s civil engineering professor Leon Boegman to study wave and water level effects on Lake Ontario. Dr. Mulligan also recently earned a grant from the US Office of Naval Research to study waves and sediment movement at a US Army Corps of Engineers site in North Carolina. He plans to continue all that work, and investigate the future effects of hurricanes on coastlines.

 

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Image via Queen's University.