Sustaining Life and Property

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Hurricanes are the costliest natural disasters that strike the United States—and as more and more Americans gravitate toward the coasts, their negative impacts will only rise.

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The wind-wave-storm surge stimulator, a component of the Rosenstiel School’s new SUSTAIN facility, generates hurricane-force winds in a 3-D test environment.

A $15 million ARRA grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. Department of Commerce supports construction of the Rosenstiel School’s 8,520-square-foot, state-of-the-art Surge-Structure-Atmosphere Interaction (SUSTAIN) laboratory.

The only facility in the world with a wind-wave-storm surge simulator that can generate hurricane-force winds in a 3-D test environment, SUSTAIN will offer the capability to model entire segments of coastal communities, so engineers can study changes in the way buildings are designed and constructed.

Slated to be completed in 2012, SUSTAIN is part of an integrated seawater laboratory building that will house a state-of-the-art Marine Life Science Center. The center, which will focus on coral reef research, will also be home to fisheries and biological oceanography research, as well as collaborative studies probing the complex connections between the oceans and human health.

Says SUSTAIN principal investigator Brian Haus, associate professor of applied marine physics and director of UM’s Air-Sea Interaction Saltwater Facility, “This building will help us better understand and protect our coastal communities and ecosystems.”

The Rosenstiel School’s Brian Haus, principal investigator of the SUSTAIN laboratory initiative, notes that “developing a more complete understanding of our environment and its weather, as well as their effects on structures, ecosystems, and human health, is essential.”

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