PIRE Application

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Program Announcement

NSF PIRE Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Research Travel Program Application for Field Research in the Netherlands 2018

The NSF PIRE Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program is pleased to offer funding* for students at participating universities – Texas A&M University (Galveston and College Station campuses), Rice University, and Jackson State University – to travel to the Netherlands from May 13 to 26, 2018 to study issues related to flood mitigation. This international opportunity will enable both undergraduate and graduate students to enhance and extend their current educational and research experience by participating in group research activities and interacting with flood experts in the Netherlands. Students from diverse disciplines, including: engineering, planning, economics, hydrology, biology, architecture, and computational hydraulics, who are interested in flood risk reduction are encouraged to apply. This program provides a unique opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary research with applicants from diverse backgrounds and academic levels. Participants will develop an array of teamwork and leadership skills.

Applicants will choose one of three case studies to work on while in the Netherlands (see the map below). For each case study area, an overarching research theme has been identified. Applicants should submit a Research Abstract that fits within the research theme. Further instructions are provided in the application package.

Descriptions of three case study areas are provided below. Please read the descriptions thoroughly before filling out an application.

Applicants should submit their completed application packet by December 31, 2017 to pire@tamug.edu

*Funding covers one round-trip flight and accommodation, meals, and transportation in the Netherlands. The schedule is non-negotiable; funded participants will travel together.

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Case Study #1 Case Study #2 Case Study #3

NSF PIRE 2018 Case Study #1: Amsterdam

Research Theme: "Urban Flooding and Design"

This case study focuses on urban flooding in Amsterdam. Participants will investigate the causes, consequences, and mitigation of flooding in an urban context. Research outcomes and lessons learned will then be applied to the Houston-Galveston area, which suffers from some of the most chronic and severe urban flood impacts in the United States.

To reduce flood risk in urban area, the appropriate use of integrated, multi-scalar flood protection mechanisms is needed. The magnitude of risk is a function of the flood hazard, exposure (i.e., the characteristics of a particular location, including elevation, proximity to the river or coast, and susceptibility to fast-moving flows or surges), and the vulnerability of people or their property. The measures that have been taken to mitigate the potential impact of flooding play a large role in reducing or decreasing the associated risk. The Netherlands, in particular, has done a good job of mixing different types of structural (dams, levees, channel improvements, etc.) and non-structural (flood proofing, land use regulation, flood insurance, etc.) flood risk reduction mechanisms to help protect new and existing communities. An inventory explaining the capabilities and types of these mechanisms would help to understand their functions and whether they could be applied in Houston-Galveston areas.  In general, research objectives should revolve around the drivers of flood hazard and risk, and methods for mitigating flood risk at multiple scales. Topics of inquiry will include planning policies, building codes and regulations, streetscape and neighborhood design, residential flood-proofing, among others.

Specific research questions may include (but are not limited to) the examples below:

RQ1: How does the built environment and design of neighborhoods affect flooding?
RQ2: How does upstream or surrounding development impact flooding downstream or to adjacent properties?
RQ3: How can urban development coincide with protecting the ecological function of natural drainage systems?
RQ4: What is a flood resilient building code in the Netherlands and how can this be applied in the U.S?
RQ5: What are the principle design elements that contribute to flood resilience in the Netherlands and where are the best examples?
RQ6: How can multiple urban flood mitigation techniques work together to effectively reduce flood losses over time?
RQ7: What flood protection alternatives are currently utilized in the Netherlands and how can there be defined, characterized, and visualized?

NSF PIRE 2018 Case Study #2: Rotterdam Inlet

Research Theme: "Coastal Protection and Dynamics"

This case study focuses on the various aspects of Rotterdam coastal inlet at Hoek van Holland. Inlets naturally occur on coastlines as pathways for water, sediment, and pollutant exchange between rivers, bays, and the open ocean. Due to complex forcing from variations in water levels, flow volumes, and sediment transport rates, they are very dynamic. This dynamic nature of coastal inlets is in stark contrast to economic development needs, which usually require stationary and protected routes for ships to go  in and out of harbors. In fact, inlets protected by coastal structures such as jetties and breakwaters are the arteries of ship-driven commerce around the world. Both Texas and the Netherlands depend heavily on the waterway infrastructure provided by artificially stabilized and dredged inlets. All inlets affect coastal system sediment budgets since they act as sources and sinks to material. Commercially used, fixed inlets require regular dredging maintenance to guarantee necessary draft requirements for ships. Most importantly, since inlets provide direct water connections between the open ocean and bay or inland areas, they are vital links during flooding events – both fresh and salt water induced, requiring special consideration in any flood protection scheme.

This PIRE group will investigate various aspects of the Rotterdam coastal inlet pertaining to its complex role in commerce, sedimentation, and flood protection by comparing and contrasting to the Bolivar Roads inlet in Galveston, Texas. Students will develop their own research objectives, goals and questions as part of this group. In general, research objectives should revolve around the idea of connecting inlet hydrodynamics (waves, storm surge, flow through inlet), morphodynamics (movement of sediment),  and commercial use requirements for different scenarios including severe storm and flooding events comparing Texas and the Netherlands.

Specific research questions may include (but are not limited to) the examples below:

RQ1: How do structurally protected inlets impact the movement of sediment during fresh water and salt water flooding events?
RQ2: How can flood impacts to inland areas from fresh and salt water be mitigated by controlling the flow of water and sediment through inlets?
RQ3: What is the role of coastal inlets in sustaining healthy coastal bay eco-systems? And how can this function be enhanced by engineering solutions?
RQ4: What are the implications of coastal inlets for urban flood protection planning efforts? And how do the Netherlands and Texas differ in their approaches to incorporate inlets into the discussion on flood impact reduction?
RQ5: Can natural inlet fluctuations (spatial and temporal changes of location and level of opening) and commercial use of natural coastal inlets coexist? How do the Netherlands and Texas approach this issue?
RQ6: How do in-channel sediment deposition patterns and volumes differ at Port of Rotterdam entrance and Bolivar Roads?
RQ7: How do the Netherlands and Texas differ in dredging methods and practices?
RQ8: How do dredged material placement practices and beneficial uses of dredged material differ at Port of Rotterdam entrance and Bolivar Roads?
RQ9: What are differences between Rotterdam inlet and Galveston Bay in handling and placement of contaminated dredged sediments?
RQ10: How do already-built or proposed navigation structures and/or flood risk reduction structures influence coastal bay dynamics and flood risk, for future sea level conditions, at Port of Rotterdam and Bolivar Roads?

NSF PIRE 2018 Case Study #3: Rhine Delta

Research Theme: "Interactions of Economics and Engineering Factors in a Delta Setting"

This case study focuses on exploring the drivers of flooding and the primary flood risk reduction measures employed in the Rhine Delta. This region – around Rotterdam and Dordrecht – is one of the most densely populated and flood prone areas in the Netherlands. It has diverse assets, including the Rotterdam harbor, the Greenports (horticulture), and the Biesbosch nature reserve. Located in the Rhine delta, large parts of the region are below sea level. It is also one of the rapidly growing areas in the Netherlands.

Challenges of compound flooding have been responded to with implementation of mitigation, adaptation, and resilience-building measures. Coordinated hazard and land use planning has existed for centuries in the Netherlands and flood risk is a fundamental driver of policymaking. A combination of sophisticated engineering and policy interventions by integrating mitigation into plan, keeps this densely populated nation of nearly 17 million inhabitants safe from harm. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of hazard plans and measures can be reduced because plan development is often isolated from other efforts governing land use and development in hazard areas, and because multiple hazard plans and measures are developed to mitigate various aspects of natural hazards.

A specific aspect of the Rhine Delta is its immense economic significance to the Netherlands. Damages and costs associated with flood events are mounting as a result of a changing climate, an increasingly urbanized and coastal populace, and local land use and development decisions. The Netherlands prides itself for its reputation for effective flood risk management involving both civil-engineering projects as well as innovative approaches for water governance. For over a century, the county has used cost- benefit analysis (CBA) as the primary tool for selecting the most effective and efficient flood risk projects. The CBA has also allowed the country to coordinate and reconcile the interests of multiple levels of government (e.g. different ministries, provinces, municipalities and water boards) and private stakeholders.

Understanding how economics, planning and engineering play into public decision making related to choosing among flood management alternatives or a mix of them will be one of the focus areas of this case study, comparing Texas to The Netherlands.

Specific research questions may include (but are not limited to) the examples below:

RQ1: At what levels of government are decisions regarding flood control made?
RQ2: How is flood infrastructure financed and what are main financial instruments used to finance both the new as well as upgrade existing projects?
RQ3: How efficient is this system and what criteria are used to evaluate the efficiency?
RQ4: What tools are used to evaluate the viability of flood control projects and what are they based on?
RQ5: What types of economic models are used to evaluate effectiveness of proposed alternatives and how are costs and benefits calculated?
RQ6: How do risk aversion and externalities play into provision of public flood control infrastructure?
RQ7: How does public risk management differ between Houston/Galveston and the Rhine Estuary Drechtsteden region?
RQ8: How do Dutch and US flood insurance schemes differ and what are private adaptation responses in the Netherlands and Texas?
RQ9: How does provision of flood protective infrastructure effect private decision to self-insurance and self-protect?
RQ10: How to effectively integrate mitigation into plan?
RQ11: What are the coordination and responsiveness of community's plans with regard to vulnerability to floods?

For questions about the Center:

Dr. Sam Brody
Ocean and Coastal Studies Building
1001 Texas Clipper Rd
Galveston, TX 77551
Bldg. 3029, Room 366
Phone (409) 740-4939
Fax (409) 740-4429

For media/meeting coordination:

Sarah Reinert
Communication Coordinator
Phone (817) 888-0002

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