The semester is finally over, and although my winter break will be filled with even more work-work, it’s always humbling to look back on the opportunities I’ve had to work with amazing people and give back what I’ve learned. The most intensive research I’ve done this semester resulted from a public-private partnership between FEMA and ImageCat, Inc., a company specializing in GIS analytics. But equally important is my work with SCIPP, my coursework in coastal estruine resources, and my *completed* thesis proposal.
Hurricane* Sandy Damage Assessment
Starting Nov. 1, I was recruited to work with a GIS firm to analyze damage caused be Hurricane* Sandy using remotely sensed data. From Virginia to Maine, I have assessed tens of thousands of homes, using aerial imagery to determine the presence, and extent of damage caused by the storm. In one month I have already put in nearly 300 hours, averaging 10 hours a day, or 70 hours a week. Calling on my previous experience in analyzing hurricane damage, with hurricanes Georges (1998), Katrina (2005), Gustav (2008), Irene (2011) and others, I can confidently say this storm, which should never be referred to as a “superstorm,” was no worse than any other category 1 or lesser storm hitting the coast; although the locations affected were of high monetary value, the extent of damage in the majority of areas was very limited. Only a handful of small, seaside communities were obliterated, which is expected in any storm bringing a surge of 1 meter or more. You can read more about the process and findings from a powerpoint document based on a presentation I gave on my work, attached here: Hurricane Sandy Damage Assessment.
*Sandy was not, in fact, a hurricane at the time of landfall; it was a post-tropical cyclone with category 1 hurricane-force winds.
Finally, after nearly eight months of research and soul-searching on what I should do for my M.S. thesis, I have completed my proposal, which has been submitted to and approved by my faculty adviser. Now, all I have to do is actually do the work. A draft of my proposal can be found here.
Coastal Estruine Resources (and other courses)
This semester I had the honor of studying with Dr. Patrick Hesp, a leader in the field of coastal geosciences and a brilliant teacher. In September we took a week-long trip to Cape San Blas, Florida (right) to study dune morphology, wave physics and coastal management processes. During this time, which was divided between collecting wave data on the boat and land surveying in the field, we visited one of the fastest eroding beaches in the United States. A report of the trip can be found here: Cape San Blas Report. I also got to visit Poverty Point (blog post below this one), write some very fun papers on the politics of geoscience research, and learn more about sand dunes than I ever thought I would care to know. All in all, I learned quite a bit in my first semester as a graduate student at LSU, and will very much miss working with Dr. Hesp, who is moving back to Australia next week.
My assistantship with LSU is paid for by the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, also known as SCIPP. I spent 35-40 hours a week working with SCIPP during the summer, but my weekly commitment is only 20 for the fall. Still, I tried to put in as much time as possible when I got the chance, some weeks getting 50 hours in; other only 10. Since my work with ImageCat began in November, I have worked for SCIPP on a very limited basis, which I plan to more than make up for over the break. Currently, I am working on state-by-state climate information pages for the entire SCIPP region. I am currently the lead (and only) researcher for information, writer, editor and designer. I should be getting some help on the research end soon, as we are in a rush to get these pages done, but they are already looking amazing and I can’t wait to get them published.
So now that my thesis proposal is submitted, and my work with ImageCat, Inc. is winding down, I can begin to look forward to my spring courses. I will be taking GIS, an advanced remote sensing course, and tropical climatology. Since my thesis work will consume most of my time this summer, I’m going to hold off on going too crazy with it in the spring. Besides, I’m a little burnt-out on remote sensing right now, which is the entire foundation of my thesis research. I also need to start dedicating more time to SCIPP, about 30 hours a week to make up for the month of lost time, and really work on being productive in that area of my life.