Outspoken hurricane scientist Ivor van Heerden cut loose by LSU

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:38 PM GMT on April 14, 2009

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Louisiana State University (LSU) will not renew the contract of controversial hurricane scientist Ivor van Heerden, according to nola.com . Dr. van Heerden has been stripped of his title as deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, and will lose his job in May 2010. The Director of the LSU Hurricane Center, engineering professor Marc Levitan, resigned from that post in protest over the firing of van Heerden. LSU has given no reason why it is removing Dr. van Heerden, but said it was not because of his performance. Van Heerden, who holds a Ph.D. degree in marine sciences from LSU, was one of the most outspoken scientists on the vulnerability of New Orleans before Katrina struck in 2005. He worked extensively with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and political figures at the local, state, and U.S. Congressional levels to try to improve New Orleans' disaster readiness. In the aftermath of the storm, he provided support for the search and rescue efforts and plugging of the levee breaches, then headed one of the teams assigned to figure out what caused the levees to fail. PBS's NOVA did a nice story on him in 2006, featuring interviews before and after Katrina. He was highly critical of the Army Corps of Engineers and politicians at the local, state, and federal level for allowing the Katrina disaster to happen, and for their abysmal response to the storm's aftermath.

It is no surprise that van Heerden has been fired, as he has also been very critical of the LSU administration. His May 2006 book, The Storm: What went wrong and why during Hurricane Katrina--the inside story from one Louisiana scientist, (see my review), tells of a case in November 2005 after Katrina where two LSU assistant chancellors told him to stop talking to the press, because it was "hurting LSU's quest for federal funding across the board." Van Heerden further remarked:

A balanced view on research is lacking at many universities obsessed with competing for the big brownie points, where upper administrators' egos and boasting rights are more important than solving problems to the benefit of society at large. You would think that our work before, during, and after Katrina might have turned some heads at LSU, but not really. Witness the gag order placed on me by the school during the levee investigation a couple of months later (soon rescinded with apologies)

Van Heerden is a big proponent of building a flood protection system that will protect Louisiana from a Category 5 hurricane. He proposes doing this by restoring wetlands, building armored levees, and installing huge flood gates on Lake Pontchartrain, similar to what the Dutch use to protect their country from the North Sea. I especially like his emphasis on the importance of doing good science. He is not a fan of what politicians and business leaders do with good science:

The science is the easy part. The hard part is overcoming the narrow-mindedness and selfishness of politics and business as usual. For decades the two have undermined plan after plan to restore wetlands, build new ones, and thereby protect people and property. They have played hell with improving the existing levee system. We must do better now, or we can kiss it all good-bye for good. I was not exaggerating in the introduction when I said that politics and business as usual in Louisiana will eventually put everything below Interstate 10 underwater. Science and engineering can save the day, but not if they're censored or manipulated. If that's to be the case, just shelve them and start packing. It's over.

According to an article in The Nation, Dr. van Heerden is scheduled to testify in a trial that begins in federal court on April 20. Judge Stanwood Duval will rule on a claim by six homeowners that the Corps failed to heed environmental laws in building and maintaining the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet shipping shortcut, which they claim led to the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans during Katrina. A second trial will begin shortly after that--a large class action suit seeking hundreds of millions in damages from the Corps. When Dr. van Heerden was first asked to testify at these trials in spring 2007, LSU's then-president, Sean O'Keefe, told plaintiffs' attorneys that if van Heerden testified against the Corps he would be fired (O'Keefe had served as head of NASA under George W. Bush between 2001 - 2005, and stepped down as LSU chancellor in January 2008). According to van Heerden, the LSU president said "nobody from LSU was going to embarrass the Bush administration or upset the major Republican companies that benefit from Corps of Engineers contracts." LSU has officially blocked Dr. van Heerden from testifying as an "expert witness" in the upcoming trials, but he can still testify as a "fact witness".

Regardless of where he winds up next, I'm sure Van Heerden will continue to voice his valuable views on the science of what is best for Louisiana and New Orleans. In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. van Heerden said Friday he would appeal the college's decision and was considering legal action. "Before going that route, I hope LSU will recognize the signal they've sent to the world is that academic freedom does not exist at LSU. The folks who are going to lose in this is LSU, not me. I will find a job rather easily. There have already been some offers."

Less politics and better science would go a long ways towards reducing our vulnerability to hurricanes. Ivor van Heerden has been a much-needed critical voice in advocating this, and I applaud his tenacity in calling it as he sees it. Louisiana very much needs Dr. van Heerden's input over the coming decades on how to move ahead to protect the vulnerable coast of the state against the twin threats of hurricanes and rising sea levels. The move by Louisiana's flagship university to silence his voice should concern everyone in the path of the next Katrina.

Jeff Masters

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Thanks keeper
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
FYI, Stillwaiting was right on the ISS item. Very bright in the early AM. Link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Link
ITEM 9 10 11 12 ON FIRST PAGE
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
As hurricane season comes around, what impact will the Digital transition make as most Houstonians received anolog only as Ike passed and in the following weeks cleanup.
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Charlotte: I'd be skeptical of one of those readings. The humidity on one of the 2 has to be incorrect.
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Ossqss- I would if I owned a pair of sunglasses. What would you ever need those in FL for? :P
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ha ha wireless or wired


wireless
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Sorry one track mind. Wired.
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ha ha wireless or wired
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
ha ha wireless or wired
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The two I have up are indoors looking out. Mounted in a window. Well at least the one you can see.


Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
are these wireless cams? would they hold up during a storm?
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
Now that's my kinda thinkin...

Quoting Ossqss:


I dare you to ductape sunglasses on it:0
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
are these wireless cams? would they hold up during a storm?
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11117
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
been lookin at a few haha do ya want a weather proof one or just regular
big difference


I'm looking for a weather proof one.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting charlottefl:
I may have to get creative to fix this problem.. Beach umbrella lol?


I dare you to ductape sunglasses on it:0
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Well I decided to purchase another Station and go with the cheaper cams. Worth it in my mind. i'll figure something out for this, or there will be a 2PM -6PM whiteout lol
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
I may have to get creative to fix this problem.. Beach umbrella lol?
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
Quoting charlottefl:
HP Quick Cam Chat (El Cheapo) First one works great in the right conditions, I'm toying with it now. LOL you at work?



Always at work, one man band.

You should have a light control setting buried in the setup screen somewhere.

Haha, I checked out many of the webcams on this site and many our inside looking out and do well. The AXIS cams are exterior capable, but the budget will dictate where you go. I viewed several of them in Canada if I recall.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting hahaguy:
I'm looking for a good outdoor webcam , anyone know a good one for outside?
been lookin at a few haha do ya want a weather proof one or just regular
big difference
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I woulda thought that rain would have done something to the drought index #'s. Didn't even put a dent in em. Matter of fact they have a fire burning now 15-20 miles south of here threatening 15-20 homes.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
HP Quick Cam Chat (El Cheapo) First one works great in the right conditions, I'm toying with it now. LOL you at work?

Quoting Ossqss:
charlotte, I see its an HP, give me a model and I will try and look up the spec if you need help while on my boooorrrring conference call.

Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
charlotte, I see its an HP, give me a model and I will try and look up the spec if you need help while on my boooorrrring conference call.

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Sorry. Been messing with the cam. Yea it's cool.. creative.. Cam #1 is southeast facing. #2 is W Facing . All the difference in the world.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
I'm looking for a good outdoor webcam , anyone know a good one for outside?
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting charlottefl:
My window faces WEST, so I have so much sunlight pouring through my cam right now. There is actually an image on the second one it's just all sunlight lol. how to fix that. I'm open for suggestions ;)





See if there is a back light compensation setting, sometimes shown as BLC or an AI or AE which is autoiris or electronic iris, that may help, but may produce poor performance in lower light. Give and take. I take it you did not like the CharLeh suggestion for your weather site :)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
My window faces WEST, so I have so much sunlight pouring through my cam right now. There is actually an image on the second one it's just all sunlight lol. how to fix that. I'm open for suggestions ;)





Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
Just outta curiosity what was the source of that temp reading. I think I know, but what does it say in the scroll box at the bottom?

Quoting lakeEFX:
charlottefl- is that temp. in Lehigh Acres right? Seeems awfully high; I just checked the current temp. on the wunderground site and it shows 88.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
It is in direct sun (has a shield, but not fan aspirated), but nowhere near concrete, out in open area with grass, or what's left of the grass. My car is also reading 97. It's kinda like a desert out here, everything is either sand or dead grass. That might be part of the reason. Big difference between here and Charlotte but I'm quite a ways further inland too and not too close to any water.

Sorry about the delayed response. I have to have a WEST facing window.lol. My webcam doesn't like that much sunlight.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
What ever happened with that Omega Block someone predicted,

Oh, that was me.
Nevermind.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
that temp gauge is high must be in direct sun
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I had a similar issue with the sun and concrete near mine. It pushed up the temp by 10 degrees at times or more.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
It shows Opa Locka at 107 degrees, I highly doubt that lol.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
charlottefl- is that temp. in Lehigh Acres right? Seeems awfully high; I just checked the current temp. on the wunderground site and it shows 88.
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 114
Quoting charlottefl:
Ok guys got most of the bugs worked out.

Station #1:



Station # 2: (NEW!) Working on the webcam now



Ok it's cheesy but I gotta say it charlottefl weather network lol.


How about CharLeh weather network :)

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Looks good charlotte.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Ok guys got most of the bugs worked out.

Station #1:



Station # 2: (NEW!) Working on the webcam now



Ok it's cheesy but I gotta say it charlottefl weather network lol.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
568. beell
Photobucket
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567. beell


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0482
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0141 PM CDT THU APR 16 2009

AREAS AFFECTED...PORTIONS TX SOUTH-PLAINS REGION...TX PANHANDLE...OK
PANHANDLE.

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH LIKELY

VALID 161841Z - 161945Z

SFC-BASED CONVECTION IS DEVELOPING BETWEEN LBB-EVW...WITH ADDITIONAL
CONVECTION POSSIBLE NWD THROUGH CENTRAL PANHANDLE AND SWWD TOWARD
TX/NM BORDER AREA E HOB. DAMAGING GUSTS AND LARGE HAIL WILL BE
POSSIBLE FROM ACTIVITY OVER THIS AREA THROUGH REMAINDER OF AFTERNOON
INTO EVENING.

SFC MESOANALYSIS INDICATES DRYLINE BULGE OVER THIS REGION...WITH
DRYLINE ARCHING THROUGH ERN DALLAM...ERN CASTRO...HALE...WRN LUBBOCK
COUNTIES...THEN SWD TO NEAR MAF. MESOANALYSIS...RADAR REFLECTIVITIES
AND VIS IMAGERY INDICATES BOUNDARY LAYER CONVERGENCE LINE COLLOCATED
WITH DRYLINE N OF LBB COUNTY...THEN EXTENDING SWWD THROUGH NWRN
GAINES COUNTY. DRYLINE SHOULD KEEP MIXING EWD ACROSS MOST OF SOUTH
PLAINS REGION...BUT BECOME MORE NW-SE ALIGNED FARTHER N AS
BACKED/INTENSIFYING LOW LEVEL FLOW PERSISTS ACROSS CENTRAL/NRN
PANHANDLE AND OK PANHANDLE. DRYLINE ACTUALLY MAY RETREAT WWD
SOMEWHAT OVER NRN TX AND OK PANHANDLES AMIDST STRENGTHENING
ISALLOBARIC FORCING...EXTENDING SOME SVR POTENTIAL INTO WHAT NOW IS
DRY AIR MASS. MODIFIED RUC/OBSERVED SOUNDINGS INDICATE VERY STEEP
MIDLEVEL LAPSE RATES ACCOMPANYING ERN EDGE OF COOLING ALOFT
OVERSPREADING REGION. FURTHER DESTABILIZATION ALOFT IS EVIDENT JUST
UPSTREAM OVER SERN NM -- WHERE CONSIDERABLE MIDLEVEL CONVECTION HAS
DEVELOPED OVER VERY DRY NEAR-SFC LAYER. THIS...COMBINED WITH SFC
DEW POINTS 50S F E OF DRYLINE...YIELDS MLCAPE 1500-2000 J/KG
IMMEDIATELY E OF DRYLINE...IN NARROW ZONE OF FAVORABLY STG
INSOLATION W OF CLOUD SHIELD FROM ACTIVITY DISCUSSED IN MESOSCALE
DISCUSSION 481.

FAVORABLE STORM-RELATIVE FLOW IS EXPECTED...GIVEN RELATIVELY BACKED
SFC WINDS EVIDENT IN TX MESONET DATA AND FCST TO CONTINUE BETWEEN
THIS AREA AND CAPROCK. MODIFIED RUC SOUNDINGS SUGGEST SE FLOW WILL
CONTRIBUTE TO FAVORABLE DEEP-LAYER SHEAR...E.G. EFFECTIVE SHEAR
MAGNITUDES 45-50 KT FOR SFC-ROOTED PARCELS. WEAK WINDS JUST ABOVE
SFC...IN 1-2 KM AGL LAYER -- WILL KEEP LOW LEVEL HODOGRAPHS
RELATIVELY SMALL OVER INITIATION AREA. HOWEVER...HODOGRAPHS WILL
EXPAND EWD WITH PROXIMITY TO 40-50 KT LLJ...AND WITH TIME THIS
EVENING.

..EDWARDS.. 04/16/2009
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Quoting stillwaiting:
possible sub-tropical low off NC coast????


Vorticity is high in the area but, Shear is also high. It would be in the Upper levels only.
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565. beell
1:15PM CDT
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564. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Joint Typhoon Warning Center

Tropical Cyclone Warning #7 (1500z 15APR)
==========================================
At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Cyclone ONE-B (BIJLI) located at 18.4N 86.6E or 265 NM south-southwest of Kolkata [Calcutta), India has sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 55 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north-northwest at 11 knots.

The initial position is based on animated visible satellite imagery and a 0800z TRMM microwave pass with a high degree of confidence. The initial intensity remains at 45 knots based on the Dvorak intensity estimates from PGTW. Upper level analysis indicates the system is tracking along the northwest periphery of a subtropcial ridge centered over Myanmar. The ridge is expected to gradually move south, enhancing a more northeasterly progression for TC Bilji. There is no significant change to previous forecast philosophy the system will intensify slightly during the next 36 hours as it continues to track over warm sea surface temperature and under low vertical wind shear before it makes landfall then dissipate near the Bangladesh/Mynamar border. The majority of available numeric models are in agreement with this forecast.
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Dodge City in center of radar




Looking north Dodge City to North Platte


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possible sub-tropical low off NC coast????
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
I have devised a Statistical and Mathmatical formula to project this years tropical season for development. Its at the bottom of this link on my WebSite.

It is on going with nothing finialized to my thoughts and not much put into analyzing yet.

http://tampaspinsweather.webs.com/weathergraphicsandmaps.htm
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Pat, thanks for the comments on the rally.

554. ConvectPUG 11:46 AM EDT on April 16, 2009
Thats a shame.

No money for protecting our cities. Obama spent it on the bailing out lenders.


Not. The bailout happened in SEPTEMBER, when Bush, the president at that time, pushed heavily for its passage. Republicans refused to support it unless it passed without the kinds of checks and balances the Democrats wanted to include.

But this is all beside the point. Somebody pointed out yesterday that the levees in NOLA didn't get into bad shape during one government's tenure. Let's not oversimplify the politics of this situation. Someone else said it well when they talked about personal corporate benefit and business as usual in this instance being major contributors to NOLA's problems during Katrina.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21943
559. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin Number SIXTEEN
Cyclonic Storm Bijli (BOB01-2009)
20:30 PM IST April 16 2009
=====================================

Subject: Cyclonic Storm Bijli over west central And adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal

YELLOW MESSAGE - Orissa, west Bengal


At 15:00 PM UTC, Cyclonic Storm Bijli over west-central and adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal remained practically stationary and lay centered near 18.5N 86.5E, or about 200 kms south of Paradip,380 kms south-southwest of Digha and 550 kms southwest of Khepupara, Bangladesh. The system is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northeasterly direction initially and then in a northeasterly direction towards Bangladesh coast.

Under its influence, rain/thundershower at many places with isolated heavy falls is likely over coastal area of Orissa and West Bengal during next 36 hours.

Gale force winds speed reaching 60-70 km/h gusting to 80 km/h are likely along and off Orissa coast during next 24 hours and West Bengal coast during next 36 hours. Sea
condition will be very rough to high.

Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea along and off these coasts.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
looks like another decent cold front dropping the temps/humidity the begining of next week for us in FL....
And watch for a repeat of the weather we saw Monday and Tuesday... Each model run is bringing the low further south, meaning a possible additional shot of severe weather for north and cetral florida. Hope we at least get some good rain and cool temps fromt this front.
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New Orleans VA's hospital plans going before public tonight


by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune
Thursday April 16, 2009, 8:14 AM

Amid growing questions about proposed hospital complexes for lower Mid-City, the public will have its first opportunity tonight to speak directly to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials about preliminary designs for its portion of the project.

The meeting, scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal St., comes as some individuals and organizations representing varying interests are asking government officials to reconsider -- or at least slow down -- their plans for the adjoining federal hospital and state teaching medical center in a historic but blighted neighborhood.


******************************************************

(P.S. I will be in attendance there tonight and hopefully will have a chance to Speak.)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127921
Quoting ConvectPUG:
Thats a shame.

No money for protecting our cities. Obama spent it on the bailing out lenders.

Wait, we can print more!

I hope Prof van Heerden speaks out on what really happened. LSU's loss. He is a great man.


Remember he's not the one who caused all of this. He's trying to fix a big mistake Bush made.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
How is the funding for LSU dervied? State taxes, some federal dollars, and some private grants? Is the state budget decided by the governor or legislature in Louisiana? Is it done by line item? The reason I ask is, that if elected officials know that they will not be voted into office again, would that change some things, I would hope so. A very, very cynical friend of mine is fond of saying 'We get the government we vote for, so it's the government we deserve!.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.