Villarini Receives NSF Grant to Better Understand Extreme Weather Events

Friday, April 11, 2014

A prestigious award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will help a University of Iowa College of Engineering professor to develop a better understanding of the physical processes responsible for the occurrence of hydrometeorological extreme events affecting the continental United States.

Gabriele Villarini, UI assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and assistant research engineer at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, has been selected by the NSF to receive a 2014 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. As an award recipient, over the next five years Villarini will receive $508,405, effective May 1.

Villarini, who has extensive experience in examining past U.S. extreme events, in particular heavy rainfall, flooding, and hurricanes, says that the continental United States will be the study focus because it is plagued by a large array of natural hazards having extensive social and economic impacts. The study will focus on flooding and heavy rainfall, high and low temperature extremes, and tropical and extra-tropical storms.

“This research represents a comprehensive step forward in our understanding of the processes responsible for the occurrence of extreme events,” Villarini says. “My proposed research aims at examining whether extreme hydrometeorological events tend to occur in clusters, with periods of enhanced activity alternating to quieter periods. Moreover, if they cluster, what are the physical processes responsible for this behavior?”

Villarini received his CAREER Award for the project titled “Temporal Clustering of Hydrometeorological Extremes.”

The CAREER award is the most prestigious NSF honor for junior faculty and recognizes research and teaching excellence, as well as scholars who are likely to become future academic leaders. The awards, presented to engineers and scientists across the country, are designed to help universities attract and retain outstanding young faculty members.