Extreme Events

Florida's unique vulnerabilities and FIU's decades of multidisciplinary research success in disaster-related research around the globe position our Extreme Events Institute to assist in addressing challenges related to natural disasters.

Click here to read prepared written testimony from FIU researchers to the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology on the December 2019 reauthorization hearing of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program.

We can't complete our mission without the academic partners of this country. When it comes to hurricanes and coastal resilience, the partnership we have with FIU is a sound and good one that we look forward to growing and strengthening in the future.

Kathryn Sullivan, Former NOAA Administrator

Rather than simply respond to natural disasters, FIU seeks to address vulnerabilities before storms hit so that international communities are not torn apart physically, socially and politically by a major weather event.

As more and more people move to areas of the country that are vulnerable to coastal flooding, we need a better understanding of all of the factors that contribute to damage.

The Extreme Events Institute encompasses all of the severe weather capabilities of FIU under one umbrella organization:

  • FIU’s Wall of Wind testing facility is the only one of its kind in the world capable of generating enough power to mimic large-scale, category 5 hurricanes.
  • The International Hurricane Research Center houses state-of-the-art facilities that enable research to reduce hurricane damage and loss of life through more effective mitigation techniques.
  • Extensive computation and data collection resources are used to model storm surges, predict inland flooding, and analyze potential damage to the built environment.
  • FIU has created a Hurricane Loss Model that is employed in the state of Florida and could be used in other coastal states for risk reduction.
  • By working with USAID (United States Agency for International Development) on disaster risk reduction techniques, researchers aim to help stem the loss of life generated by violent storms in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Research Leads

Richard Olson, Ph.D.
Director, Extreme Events Research

Dr. Olson is a professor and director of extreme events research at FIU. Based on both research and field experiences, Olson moved into the multidisciplinary field of disaster research, arguing for the understanding and analysis of disasters and catastrophes, as inherently and inescapably political and frequent as crises. As an expert in disaster preparedness, Dr. Olson has focused much of his research on the “Politics of Disaster.”

Keqi Zhang, Ph.D.
Interim Director, International Hurricane Research Center

As a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at FIU, Dr. Zhang is an expert in natural hazards and their effect on coastal environments. Zhang's research focuses on coastal response to sea level rise and storm impact, airborne light detection and ranging remote sensing, storm surge modeling, and the mapping of coastal hazards using geographic information systems.

Arindam Gan Chowdhury, Ph.D.
Director, Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research, International Hurricane Research Center

Dr. Chowdhury is conducting groundbreaking research at the Wall of Wind facility at FIU. His current research is enabling, for the first-time ever, the innovative testing of full-scale structures fully engulfed in properly simulated hurricane flows, leading to the performance-based design for hurricanes through the direct correlation of wind speed with performance and damage levels.