In recognition of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, the USGS has initiated specific actions to prepare for the impending hurricane season that runs June through October.
One specific action is the use of geodressing. When Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans under water, conventional road maps became almost useless tools to locate those in distress. "Geoadressing," using GPS, satellite, and other remotely obtained geospatial information, proved crucial for search and rescue operations. The USGS has established a Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT) whose purpose is to ensure streamlined and responsive coordination and timely availability of geospatial information for effective Gulf and East coast storm response for emergency responders, land and resource managers, and scientific analysis. The GIRT is responsible for putting in place and monitoring procedures for geospatial data acquisition, processing, and archiving; data discovery, access, and delivery; anticipating geospatial needs; and other related geospatial products and services. During national emergencies, the USGS Geospatial Information Response Team provides post-event airborne imagery within 24 hours upon request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Scientific research at the USGS related to hurricanes includes: 1) radar-tracking of migratory birds during the fall migration period to assess possible effects of hurricanes on migration patterns; 2) studying global climate change and effects of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands and forests; 3) predicting the persistence of coastal wetlands to global climate change effects, including effects of altered temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide; 4) biogenic accretion through surface-root production in coastal wetlands and implications for elevation change relative to sea-level rise; 5) tracking and visualization of coastal restoration projects; 6) hurricane modeling including models of spread of invasive species via hurricane-force winds.