June 2008

The Wall of Wind

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Florida International University creates a wall of wind to test roof systems

by Arindam Gan Chowdhury, Ph.D.
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As we all know, the U.S. Gulf and East coasts are vulnerable to hurricanes. Hurricane-induced economic losses have increased steadily in the U.S. during the past 50 years with estimated annual losses (in constant 2006 dollars) averaging $1.3 billion from 1949-89, $10.1 billion from 1990-95 and $35.8 billion per year during 2001-05, according to the National Science Board, which oversees and establishes policies for the National Science Foundation within the framework of policies set forth by the president and Congress.

Recent hurricane activity, especially the New Orleans disaster in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has focused public attention on our vulnerability to hurricanes. The devastation caused by recent hurricanes demonstrates the need for mitigation tools that can significantly reduce losses.

A solution

To address these problems, current research at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami is enabling full-scale testing of entire structures, leading to performance-based design for hurricanes through direct correlation of wind speed with...

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U.S. areas most vulnerable to hurricanes

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