Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saving lives from cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh

Science (Dec 7) has a short piece on Hassan Mashriqui, whose calculations helped save lives from the recent cyclone, Sidr.
Mashriqui studies how hurricanes blow water onto the shore and has adapted his model for Bangladesh. So on 13 November, just 2 days before Sidr made landfall, Mashriqui requested super-computer time to run the model, which predicted storm surges as high as 3.7 meters. "We had to act fast," he says.
This is a fantastic example of fast global communications directly saving lives (much higher success ratio than the usual prayers :) ):
Mashriqui e-mailed the results to an official at the Bangladesh Ministry of Food and Disaster Management whose son is an LSU student. Evacuations of low-lying areas were already under way, but the predictions helped the government target its preparations for relief efforts. "They could see in detail where the storm was coming and what the surge would be," he says.

The cyclone still claimed more than 4000 lives. Mashriqui hopes that Bangladeshi researchers will be able to run the model themselves the next time a cyclone threatens their country.

Great job!