The National Science Foundation (NSF) and its staff are deeply concerned for the people and institutions affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Now that the consequences of Hurricane Harvey are upon us, new science and engineering questions are being raised. Through this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), NSF encourages the submission of proposals that seek to address the challenges related to this storm. NSF also will support fundamental science and engineering research projects whose results may enable our country to better prepare for, respond to, recover from, or mitigate future catastrophic events. Research proposals relating to a better fundamental understanding of the impacts of the storm (physical, biological and societal), human aspects of natural disasters (including first responders and the general public), emergency response methods, and approaches that promise to reduce future damage also are welcome.
With NSF support, researchers have a long history of advancing understanding and knowledge about natural and built environments, as well as the relationship between humans and their environments in the context of large-scale disasters. Fundamental science and technological advancements are vital to our continued improvement of disaster preparation and restoration. For example, NSF-funded research has advanced understanding of the mechanisms that cause levee failures, gained new knowledge on the performance of critical infrastructure, and supported efforts to improve flood water decontamination. Researchers also have improved our ability to better predict, with longer lead times, the path of tropical cyclones. NSF support for researchers has led to the deployment of underwater rescue robots in an effort to safeguard emergency workers, developed real-time flood potential models, conducted effectiveness assessments of oil plume dispersants, assessed and advised better hazard-resistant buildings, and developed liquefaction mitigation methods in response to earthquakes. In addition, NSF-funded researchers have made ground-breaking discoveries about the long-term psychological and emotional impacts of national disasters.
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