Press Release for Friday, February 23, 2007

UNF Professor's Work on Coastal Storms Earns Award

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

Dr. Patrick Welsh, executive director of the Advanced Weather Information Systems Lab at the University of North Florida, was recently recognized by the Coastal Storms Project Manager for his contributions that helped the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Storms Program win the U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal, the highest honorary award given by the organization.

The Bronze Medal is presented to Commerce Department offices and employees who have made significant or outstanding contributions that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an operating unit. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“I’m very pleased with the recognition of the program and the entire team,” Welsh said. “A lot of people worked very hard on this.” He helped set up the program during his time as a science and operations officer for the National Weather Service, where he worked from 1994 to 2004.

Florida’s Coastal Storms Program was the first in the country. The program’s goal is to assist coastal communities to mitigate the impact of storms by developing new tools, data, information, forecast models and training. These tools cover storm-related issues from community-risk and vulnerability assessments to flood response and better weather forecasting.

Welsh, a San Pablo resident, came to UNF in 2004 and was primarily involved in creating computerized high-resolution atmospheric models, which provide more accurate predictions of local weather patterns. He also continues to work on the issue of weather-data collection.

“Historically, it’s been hard to get funding to make coastal observations,” said Welsh. “Data isn’t glamorous, but it is absolutely crucial to the problem of coastal storms.”