Global storm risk to coastal cities

Global storm risk to coastal cities under climate change

Tropical cyclones, also known as hurricanes, typhoons, or windstorms, causes large losses to coastal cities every year. The storm losses, unfortunately, are expected to further increase as the globally average storm intensity increases in a warmer climate. In addition, the storm risk to coastal cities is highly uncertain owing to the ever-increasing coastal development. The objectives of this project are to (1) assess coastal development using satellite-based Earth observations to better evaluate storm risk, and (2) introduce the student to quantitative skills in geospatial data processing and analysis. During the project, the student will, built on existing codes created by the supervisor, assess coastal development in terms of the urban area, population density, and economic activity using various satellite datasets and examine the changes in the development over the past few decades. The satellite datasets to be studied include the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 data and the United States Air Force’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program night-time light data. The satellite datasets will be processed using the Google Earth Engine, a cutting-edge cloud-based platform for planetary-scale geospatial data storage and computation that allows “impromptu” data analysis, i.e. the datasets are stored in and can be analysed with the server. This project will contribute to a European Commission Horizon 2020 funded project that aims to increase the resilience of coastal human-nature systems to climate change via providing more accurate storm risk assessment and hence more precise risk mitigation strategies. This project is an excellent fit for the NERC summer placements in 2021 because the project execution will be fully computer-based, and the research coaching can be done remotely.  


TIMELINE: The project is divided into three stages: (1) week 1-2, background reading and learning example codes; (2) week 3-4, code modification to process new satellite datasets; and (3) week 5-6, data analysis and report generation.  


STUDENT’S INITIATIVE: The student will work with the supervisor to choose the study’s region of interest (as most satellite datasets have global coverage) and the satellite datasets to be studied. The student will also be free to choose the format of the final report. For example, it can be a report focus on a statistical analysis of the data or a novel form of data visualization. The student will also be encouraged to submit the report to a conference and to be a co-author of a peer-review journal article.   


Pre-requisites: Coursework or some experience in any program language.   


The maximum number of students: One student 

If interested in this project, please contact