College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Center for Land Use Education and Research

NASA DEVELOP Summer 2006 Project

Modeling Coastal Inundation Resulting from Tropical Storm Surge

Objective | Researchers | Data Sources | Funding


After the disastrous 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, the most active in recorded history, the need for accurate information for preparedness and evacuation planning has become increasingly evident. Frequently, the most economically damaging and life threatening component of hurricanes is the storm surge. Accurate flood prediction maps are one tool used to minimize damage from storm surges.

This project explores the efficacy of different sources of elevation data in modeling the degree of inundation from hurricanes for the 37 coastal towns of Connecticut. The town of Milford was the main study region. Although Connecticut is often perceived to be safe from hurricanes, it has been struck by several severe hurricanes in the past. The hurricane of 1938, also known as the New England Express, Hurricane Carol 54’, and Hurricane Donna 60’, all produces catastrophic storm surges which devastated the Connecticut coastline.   In order to minimize damages, the NASA DEVELOP team decided to explore the effects of using different elevation data, with varying resolution and accuracy, on the creation of flood maps. Comparisons were made between 10 foot, 30 foot and 100 foot LIDAR, 1/3 and 1-second arc NED and 1-second arc SRTM datasets. The purpose was to discover if flood maps that used different elevation datasets would indicate different flooded regions.  Results may lead to more informed decision making for hazard planning and disaster management.


Student Team Members

  • Mark Hoover

  • Undergraduate Environmental Science Major

  • Nicholas McNamara

  • Graduate Geography (GIS) Major

  • Jason Miller

  • Graduate Geography (GIS) Major

Faculty Science Advisor

Daniel Civco, Professor of Geomatics and Director, CLEAR

Data Sources

Digital Elevation Models

-NASA SRTM 100ft

-NED 30ft, 100ft

-LIDAR 10ft, 30ft, 100ft


-CT DEP hydrography layer

-CT DEP town boundaries

-NGS elevation benchmarks

-FEMA 2004 SLOSH maps


-Planimetric data for Milford, CT

-GPS adjusted elevation benchmarks

-CT coastal boundary

-2004 digital orthophotos

Funded by NASA

Funding was provided by NASA via the DEVELOP program.  The DEVELOP program is a research program run by students for students.  Student members have a wide range of experience from high school to graduate students.  The groups consist of many disciplines including, geography, environmental science, math and much more.  Each group explores a research problem in one of NASA’s twelve “Applications of National Priority”.  

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