Emergency and facility managers face increasing but uncertain risks from sea level rise and extreme storms. Among the difficulties they face is preparing for events that are unprecedented in recent memory and communicating with stakeholders regarding the risks these events pose.

Realistic and semi-realistic 3D visualizations play an essential role in helping to orient stakeholders. They help stakeholders imagine things that were heretofore unimaginable, to show “it can happen here.” As importantly, these visualizations convey highly complex model data regarding sea level rise and storm surge in a way that is easily related to familiar contexts, allowing stakeholders to assess impacts more easily.

Visualizing inundation

Right: A facility-level visualization at Fields Point Rhode Island showing normal conditions, left, and surge conditions right. When combined with data regarding storm impacts visualizations such as these can be used to convey impact information (2020).


Visualizations serve two roles:

Elicitation tools:
Visualizations showing storm impacts for projected scenarios assist facility managers in evaluating likely impacts that can be cataloged and included in RICHAMP databases.

Communication tools:
3D impact visualizations help decision makers asses projected outcomes based on storm models and identified impacts. Visualizations may also be used with wider audiences as part of a suite of risk communication information including expert assessments and maps to convey the likely impact of events.

The 3D visualizations made as part of RICHAMP employ an innovative visualization framework that allows 3D visualization tools to be coupled to storm model outputs. This innovative framework ensures that projected outcomes are accurately depicted.


Stempel, P., & Becker,A. (2019). Visualizations Out of Context: Addressing Pitfalls of Real-TimeRealistic Hazard Visualizations. ISPRS International Journal ofGeo-Information, 8(8). doi:10.3390/ijgi8080318

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