A new type of supercomputer-based flood simulator will be studied at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel school under a new $1.5 million boost from the federal government. The project is focused on Miami-Dade County.
Although the program is aimed at learning whether disadvantaged communities are more at risk from floods, it’s also possible Key Biscayne could see some benefits.
The National Science Foundation made the award to help communities more quickly respond to growing urban flooding threats as sea levels continue to rise. Affluent Key Biscayne is planning $250 million to combat the threat of rising seas, and much of that will be to replumb the barrier island’s antiquated storm drains.
The computer model, called the Parallel Raster Inundation Model (PRIMo), enables fast predictions of flooding scenarios at household resolution, Rosenstiel said in a statement. It’s already been used in Los Angeles, and Rosenstiel is partnering with researchers who developed it at the University of California, Irvine.
“We would be interested in knowing what comes of it and whether they have any interest in KB,” said Roland Samimy, the Village’s chief resilience officer. U.M. Environmental Science Professor Katherine Mach said that while research will likely focus on other areas of the County, “there are real potential synergies” with Key Biscayne’s upcoming program.
The PRIMo model is aimed at giving decision makers the ability to see impacts of flood control measures such as flood walls and pumps — precisely the kind of measures the Village is planning.
However, a major focus of the research is to identify social inequalities when it comes to how the government responds to flood risk, especially as those responses impact members of “historically overburdened groups,” Rosenstiel said.
The California-Irvine researchers found flood risks “are disproportionately higher for non-Hispanic Black and disadvantaged populations” in a scientific article published last October.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.