Reducing Catastrophic Wind-induced Damage
Protecting Canada’s built environment against extreme wind and other natural disasters is necessary to save lives and sustain the prosperity of communities. Although significant progress has been made in wind engineering, the characteristics of hurricanes, tornadoes and downbursts close to the ground, and their impacts on the built environment, are not clearly understood. The design and testing of current civil engineering structures do not take tornadoes and downbursts into consideration. New and emerging green energy technologies, such as solar panels and wind farms, also require careful wind investigations. Dr. Girma Bitsuamlak, Canada Research Chair in Wind Engineering, is developing mathematical, computer and scalesize models to reproduce hurricane, tornado and downburst effects in a controlled laboratory environment. He is using unique, state-of-the-art straight and hexagonal wind tunnel facilities to test hurricanes, tornadoes and downbursts. The aerodynamic data he obtains from testing various types of small-scale structural models will help in the future design of structures that can withstand extreme wind forces. Bitsuamlak will also conduct wind force tests using samples from full-scale, low-rise buildings to assess the strengths and weakness of various construction materials and methods. Bitsuamlak’s research will allow engineers and architects to design buildings and energy infrastructure that can withstand hurricane, tornado and downburst forces. It will also lead to the development of new wind mitigation technology and construction methods to reduce catastrophic wind-induced damage in new and existing structures.