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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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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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.
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Levees.org

Rally to protest downsizing of LSU Hurricane Center
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

In response to public outrage over Louisiana State Universitys decision to fire hurricane expert Ivor van Heerden, Levees.org is holding a rally at LSU's Health Sciences Center in downtown New Orleans.

10am Thursday April 16
In front of the Ische Library at LSU Health Science Center
433 Bolivar Street - one half block off Tulane Avenue

Three blocks uptown side of Claiborne Ave.

Dr. van Heerden led a team of independent geotechnical engineers who investigated the levee failures in metro New Orleans after Katrina. Van Heerden was openly critical about the design and construction mistakes by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Observers believe that has caused LSU officials to worry that federal funding was put in jeopardy.

For more on LSU Chancellor Michael Martins decision to downsize the Hurricane Center and fire key personnel, see this piece in todays Times Picayune by staff writer Bob Marshall.
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Rally scheduled today to protest firing Ivor van Heerden


By Joy Lukachick

Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In response to the University firing the coastal scientist and research professor Ivor van Heerden, Levees.org announced a rally to protest the University's decision at LSU's Heath Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Levees.org, founded by Sandy Rosenthal a few months after Hurricane Katrina, is hosting the protest tomorrow at 10 a.m.

"This is much bigger than Ivor van Heerden, its about the citizens," Rosenthal said.

Levees.org began after the hurricane to educate the public that New Orleans was flooded not by a natural disaster but by engineering failure, Rosenthal said.

In addition to the protest, the group posted a petition to Chancellor Michael Martin for citizens to sign and voice their disagreement.

"This is a huge loss for the citizens of south Louisiana and indeed the entire nation, and I request that you reconsider those decisions," the petition read.
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Shear map and tropical model runs on the same page!?

We are close...

It is 45 days, 10 hours, 57 minutes and 20 seconds until Monday, June 1, 2009 at 12:00:01 AM (Praia time).
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No cyclones in EATL present or near future forecast (GFS)to move WEST :) http://moe.met.fsu.edu/cyclonephase/gfs/fcst/index.html
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Wouldn't think Florida will get too many more fronts cooling you off.
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looks like another decent cold front dropping the temps/humidity the begining of next week for us in FL....
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..oh,and what a perfect morning locally here in swfl!!!!!!,actually left the ac off all night......
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Good Morning folks. Just stopping by for a minute to complain about the cool temps for this time of year? 51 yesterday morning here in Panama City Beach and 53 this morning. I was in my pool by this time last year but it's temp has fallen back into the upper 60s. The next seven days don't look they will help much either. I'm ready for Summer!!
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great ISS viewings coming up!!!,one tomorrow morning and one sunday morning....these will be slightly brighter than the last time(2 weeks ago) w/ magnatudes of -3.9 and -4 !!!!!!
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Earthquake activity in both S.E. Alaska 4.8 and off the Oregon coast a 4.7 today. Hoping for a good rain here in the Houston area.
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28 deg this morning just outside of boston,those cold mornings just don't want to go away
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More heavy rain and thunderstorms on the way for the south west here. Lookin' to get pretty drenched down there.

Up here though, cloudy and warm. That said, do like a good thunderstorm.. deprived. :(

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College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings

Hey, Hey, Hey... none, not a one, nada, (warning) this morning.

Morning folks
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Morning all. Excellent post Dr. M!
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I feel that there is a time and a place for politics and those in politics feel that they rule the country. It's like politics knows no boundries, yet they expect others to observe boundries.

You look at the brilliant minds of ages past and how they were treated by the heads of state and by the church. Those brilliant minds had so much to offer society, if politics would just shut up and listen.

This good Dr. who is trying to give to society what he has been blessed with to give, is being silenced by politics. If the political powers would be would take a plentiful dose of humility, they would realize that he has valuable information for everybody as a whole.

Politics cannot see the nose on it's face. It cannot see past today and into next year. It's vision is on the here and now. "This is what I want and I don't care what has to be sacrificed to get it." I wish for once, that politics would just take the blinders off and realize that others are looking at the big picture and can't make the changes we need as a society w/o the help of politics. It is help that we won't get as long as politics keeps those blasted blinders on.

just my uneducated thought.
Keep on, Keepin' on Doc.
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44*F in Macon, Ga this morning, is this Spring?
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The trail was kind of poorly done how can a cyclone reach category seven when there isn't even a six the hurricane samon is already in an area in the middle of the Atlantic right around the area where cat fives cat exist (there's a cut off latitude where cat 5 can no longer form Samon is probably at or near this latitude and will get beyond it soon also since it's an S name this indicates a storm towards the end of the season like October where formation in the Atlantic is rare and the forecast cone has it going straight for new york city hurricanes would curve up to NY

sorry when there's a movie I watch that mentions cyclones I always get upset about how they get it wrong
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535. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin Number TWELVE
Cyclonic Storm Bijli (BOB01-2009)
8:30 AM IST April 16 2009
=====================================

Subject: Cyclonic Storm Bijli over west central Bay of Bengal:

Cyclone warning (northern Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and west Bengal)

At 3:00 AM UTC, Cyclonic Storm Bijli over west central Bay of Bengal moved northwards and lay centered near 17.0N 86.0E, about 300 kms east-southeast of Visakhapatnam, 380 kms south-southwest of Paradip and 700 kms southwest of Khepupara, Bangladesh.

Under its influence, rain/thundershower at many places with isolated heavy falls is likely over coastal area of north Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal during next 48 hours.

Gale force winds speed reaching 60-70 km/h gusting to 80 km/h are likely along and off north Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal coasts during next 48 hours. Sea condition will be very rough to high.

Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea along and off these coasts.

Satellite imagery shows curved band pattern of the system. Associated broken intense to very intense convection is seen over Bay of Bengal between 15.0N to 19.0N and west of 90.0E. The lowest cloud top temperature due to convection is around -60C. The Dvorak intensity of the system is T2.5, RPT=2.5. The forecast intensity during the next 24 hours is T3.0.

Maximum 3 minute sustained winds near the center is 40 knots with a minimum central pressure of 996 hPa. The state of the sea is very rough to high around the system's center.

Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is between 5 to 10 knots. 24 hours shear tendency is negative around the system. The system lies close to south of the upper tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 18.0N.

Considering all the above, the system is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northwestly direction for some more time and recurve thereafter.

Forecast and Intensity
======================
Current: 17.0N 86.0E - 40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
24 HRS: 19.5N 86.5E - 45-50 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
48 HRS: 21.5N 90.0E - 45-50 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44856
534. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Subject: Cyclonic storm Bijli over west central Bay of Bengal

Cyclone alert remain in effect


At 0:00 AM UTC, Cyclonic Storm Bijli over west central Bay of Bengal moved northwestward and lays centered at 16.5N 86.0E, or about 330 kms east-southeast of Visakhapatnam, 450 kms southwest of Paradip, and 750 kms southwest of Khepupara, Bandladesh.

Under its influence, rain/thundershower at many places with isolated heavy falls is likely over coastal area of north Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal during next 48 hours.

Gale force winds speed reaching 60-70 km/h gusting to 80 km/h are likely along and off north Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal coasts during next 48 hours. Sea condition will be very rough to high. Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea along and off these coasts.

Satellite imagery shows curved band pattern of the system. Associated broken intense to very intense convection is seen over Bay of Bengal between 15.0N to 19.0N and west of 90.0E. The lowest cloud top temperature due to convection is around -60C. The Dvorak intensity of the system is T2.5, RPT=2.5. The forecast intensity during the next 24 hours is T3.0.

Maximum 3 minute sustained winds near the center is 40 knots with a minimum central pressure of 996 hPa. The state of the sea is very rough to high around the system's center.

Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is between 5 to 10 knots. 24 hour shear tendency is negative around the system. The system lies close to south of the upper tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 18.0N.

Considering all the above, the system is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northwesterly direction for some more time and recurve thereafter.

Forecast and Intensity
=====================
Current: 16.5N 86.0E - 40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
24 HRS: 19.0N 86.0E - 45-50 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
48 HRS: 21.0N 88.5E - 55-60 knots (Severe Cyclonic Storm)
72 HRS: 22.0N 91.5E - 55-60 knots (Severe Cyclonic Storm)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44856
hey pat do you want to joine me on yahoo IM???



david_thomas4000
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It's only April Naples. Too early to be talking tropics. goodnight!
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So do we have a Tropical Wave? :)
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Kathy Anderson / The Times-Picayune
Ivor van Heerden is pictured here in May 2006 standing near the 17th Street levee break.

Bob Marshall: LSU ouster of Ivor van Heerden removes most honest appraiser of city's levee failures

Posted by Bob Marshall, Columnist, The Times-Picayune April 15, 2009 6:54AM


Ugly doesn't change, even when you see it coming. Neither does stupid.

I'm talking about the decision by LSU to fire Ivor van Heerden, the head of the LSU Hurricane Center who earned world-wide renown for his work before and after Hurricane Katrina. This move had been rumored and threatened almost since van Heerden began his post-storm work, but it was no less repulsive for its inevitability.

As someone who covered that story, I always thought the state should be rewarding van Heerden, not chasing him away, because metro area residents -- indeed, citizens of any U.S. community currently relying on federal levees to keep them safe -- owe Van Heerden a huge debt.
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Nightall

For those who would like some interesting easy reading.

Link

4-1
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528. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin Number TEN
Cyclonic Storm Bijli (BOB01-2009)
2:30 AM IST April 16 2009
=====================================

At 21:00 PM UTC, Cyclonic Storm Bijli over central and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal remained practically stationary and lays centered near 16.0N 86.5E, or about 400 kms east-southeast of Visakhapatnam, 830 kms northwest of Port Blair, and 900 kms west-southwest of Pathein, Myanmar.

Satellite imagery shows curved band pattern of the system. Associated broken intense to very intense convection is seen over Bay of Bengal between 15.0N to 19.0N and west of 90.0E. The lowest cloud top temperature due to convection is around -60C. The intensity of the system is T2.5, RPT=2.5. The forecast intensity during the next 24 hours is T3.0.

Maximum 3 minute sustained winds near the center is 40 knots with a minimum sea level pressure of 996 hPa. The state of the sea is very rough to high around the system's center.

Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is between 5 to 10 knots. 24 hours shear tendency is negative around the system. The system lies close to south of the upper tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 18.0N.

Considering all the above, the system is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northwesterly direction for some more time and recurve thereafter.

Forecast and Intensity
======================
Current: 16.0N 86.5E - 40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
24 HRS: 18.5N 86.0E - 45-50 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
48 HRS: 20.5N 88.0E - 55-60 knots (Severe Cyclonic Storm)
72 HRS: 22.5N 91.5E - 55-60 knots (Severe Cyclonic Storm)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44856
Quoting KEHCharleston:
Ossqss - Too funny - and somewhat amazing.

Quiet night tonight, particularly after the hail and such of the last coupla nights.

Picture perfect day here. Lots of sun, slight breeze. Flower gardens are providing color and a sweet smell. Tourist seem to be enjoying themselves.


Gettin down right cold here, mid 50's for a low. Thin blood makes me shiver, but keeps the skeeters down. Worked out my hand held bug zapper earlier. Definite hur kit must have. Be well
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
Ossqss - Too funny - and somewhat amazing.

Quiet night tonight, particularly after the hail and such of the last coupla nights.

Picture perfect day here. Lots of sun, slight breeze. Flower gardens are providing color and a sweet smell. Tourist seem to be enjoying themselves.
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Removed for your viewing pleasure.
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Never mind : )
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penguins 2-0
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Quoting G35Wayne:
the two tone talk the twon tone talk
By me. What???

3-0

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Quoting G35Wayne:
the two tone talk the twon tone talk


Ditto?

2-0
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
Quoting G35Wayne:
the two tone talk the twon tone talk


What?
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
the two tone talk the twon tone talk
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Quoting ILwatcher:

Just coming out from my long winter's hibernation. It still feels like winter here, I may have to go back and sleep some more, lol.


Speaking of hibernation, aren't these just the cutest creatures ever? Link

Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Quoting Cotillion:


IL!

Long time no see!

Just coming out from my long winter's hibernation. It still feels like winter here, I may have to go back and sleep some more, lol.
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Quoting Cotillion:


As long as everyone keeps their Celine Dion impressions to themselves.... ;)


lol Cotillion..would not even think it!
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Quoting ILwatcher:
498 -- Amazing!

Waves to cot...


IL!

Long time no see!

Storms seem to be getting worse now in the south, especially the south east. Picking up on a gust near 60mph in London. Link

Most of the lightning seems concentrated there too.
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Quoting Cotillion:


As long as everyone keeps their Celine Dion impressions to themselves.... ;)


HAH! I promise.
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498 -- Amazing!

Waves to cot...
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Not only is today Tax / Tea-Bag Day....but also the 97th anniversary of the Titanic sinking.


As long as everyone keeps their Celine Dion impressions to themselves.... ;)
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
510. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin Number NINE
Cyclonic Storm Bijli (BOB01-2009)
23:30 PM IST April 15 2009
=====================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Cyclonic Storm Bijli over central & adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal moved further northwards and lay centered near 16.0N 86.5E, or about 400 kms east-southeast of Visakhapatnam, 830 kms northwest of Port Blair, and 900 kms west-southwest of Pathein, Myanmar. The system is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northwesterly direction for some more time and recurve thereafter.

Under its influence, rain/thundershower at many places with isolated heavy falls is likely over coastal area of north Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal.

Squally winds speed reaching 50-60 km/h gusting to 70 km/h are likely along and off north Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal coasts during next 48 hours commencing from today morning. Sea condition will be rough to very rough.

Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea along and off these coasts.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44856
Not only is today Tax / Tea-Bag Day....but also the 97th anniversary of the Titanic sinking.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11005
'Course, mostly on the news is about the government continually screwing up.

We can't wait to be rid of this hypocritical, tax-heavy administration either...
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Is she a big story over there Cotillion?


Heh, she's made the rounds on some of the news channels and papers, yes. First picked up on it on Sky News.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300


ITV.com
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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