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Sept. 1, 2021

UArizona Flooding Experts Available to Comment on Hurricane Aftermath

Category 4 Hurricane Ida has left many residents in its path to cope with dangerous and damaging flooding. Next, Ida is expected to cause flash flooding in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States.

In April, a University of Arizona-led hurricane forecasting team predicted another year of above-average hurricane activity over the Atlantic Ocean. The team predicted 18 named storms in 2021, including eight hurricanes. Four storms are expected to produce major hurricanes, which are defined as Category 3, 4 or 5.

In comparison, the 30-year average is 13 named storms and seven hurricanes annually.

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season has already produced 12 storms, including four hurricanes, two of which were major. The season officially began on June 1 and will end on Nov. 30.

If the predictions are realized, 2021 will be the sixth consecutive year for above-average activity, bringing more dangerous flooding.

The following UArizona experts are available to speak to media about various aspects of flooding.

Laura Bakkensen
Associate professor, School of Government and Public Policy

Bakkensen studies the economics of natural disasters and identifies current hazard risks and evidence of adaptation to damages and fatalities across the globe. She also evaluates individual and policy responses to natural disasters, as well as community resilience to threats including hurricanes and flooding. Her research informs public policy on insurance regulation, pre- and post-disaster aid, severe weather warnings and public adaptation projects.

Beth Tellman
Assistant professor, School of Geography, Development & Environment

Tellman is a human-environmental geographer who seeks to address the causes and consequences of global environmental change for vulnerable populations, with a focus on flood risk and land use change. Her research on the increasing proportion of the population exposed to floods was recently featured in Nature. She can speak about mapping flood exposure with satellites, assessing flood risks, social vulnerability to flooding and changes in flooding over time.

Xubin Zeng
Director, Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center 
Professor, Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences

Zeng leads a team that makes annual predictions about the Atlantic hurricane season. His research focuses on land-atmosphere-ocean interface processes, weather and climate modeling, remote sensing, big data analytics and more. He can explain flood modeling and how hurricanes induce flooding.

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Media contact:
Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 40 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2019 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $734 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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