Dartmouth Researchers Studying Vermont Stream Recovery
The Boston Globe
January 13, 2013
Dartmouth scientists studying the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont hope their work will help communities both predict and plan for future hazards.
Immediately after the 2011 storm, geography professor Frank Magilligan and earth sciences professor [and adjunct professor of engineering] Carl Renshaw used a National Science Foundation grant to conduct a rapid damage assessment. They are now a few months into a three-year, $345,000 grant to study the storm’s longer-term effects, particularly in areas where overflowing streams washed away roads and houses.
Many communities found themselves ill-prepared for the storm, which knocked out hundreds of roads and bridges in the state, damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and left some towns stranded. Flooding moved whole sections of rivers and streams, gouging out roads and farm fields. In some cases, huge piles of gravel were deposited in other locations.
‘‘Irene was a wakeup call for them,’’ Magilligan said.
Using a combination of their own observations, aerial photography and data from remote sensors, the researchers are developing faster and more accurate assessment techniques that can be used to pinpoint potential trouble spots along streams. The goal is to give communities tools they can use to make scientifically informed planning decisions, rather than make recommendations, Magilligan said...
...Beyond the erosion, the scientists also are concerned about how streams will recover. And in many cases, efforts to ‘‘repair and restore’’ streams with bulldozers and other heavy equipment actually did more damage than the storm, Magilligan said.