The RENCI Engagement Center at ECU operated from 2007-2013. This website is an archive of the research and engagement activity over those years. Several of our projects continue at ECU. For instance, see the NC Coastal Atlas ( for current news and information. This site is no longer being updated. Parties interested in these projects and ongoing related activities may contact Dr. Tom Allen, past Director of RENCI@ECU at



2009–2010 Focus: Storm Surge

Download project brief sheet.

Storm surges from major storms can have a diversity of impacts on humans. One of the most tangible is the overwash of water and sediment across the landscape, which can cause great damage and complications to human activities (e.g., road closures). Managers need to know when and where impacts will occur, and the public needs to have a better understanding of the risk and potential damage from storm surge events. Availability of accurate information and communication of risk must be improved. These are goals of the two focused projects for 2009 outlined below.

Geovisual Information Products for Emergency Communication

Leaders: Tom Allen and Tom Crawford

Coast Guard station near Oregon Inlet before and during a Category 1-2 storm surge.

Our successful outreach and prototyping of geovisualization of storm surges has attracted the interest of coastal emergency managers facing the problem of risk awareness and evacuation compliance. In cooperation with Dare County and New Hanover County Departments of Emergency Management, we will develop, refine, and implement a tool for emergency managers and public information officers to use both in times of imminent hurricane landfall and also in preparedness educational activities for citizens and tourists. This technology will employ the computational resources of RENCI (the ADCIRC hydrosdynamic model) and the applied geovisualization and GIS capabilities of ECU. The system will expand upon ongoing 3D modeling, GIS web services, and data development to demonstrate successful use in Dare and New Hanover Counties. Design of this proof-of-concept will also consider portability to other counties.

Given a lack of empirical studies examining geospatial media for communicating coastal hazards risk, we will also examine hazard risk visualizations geared to the general public utilizing psychophysiological measures along multiple dimensions, including static-dynamic, 2D-3D, large-small format, short-long duration, and large-to-small hazard events. Visual cognition, modes of delivery, and communicative performance will be assessed by our risk communication team. The cross-cutting economic component of this project will include assessment of the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) voluntary Community Rating System.

Primary Target

Emergency managers' decision-making and communication (Dare County, New Hanover County partnership); public education.

Specific Deliverable

GIS-based near-real-time mapping tool of storm surge.