A new online game is hoping to help save lives during storm surges by teaching children, aged 12 and above, how to identify the early warning signs of coastal flooding and take appropriate action. The free game called Storm Force builds on half-a-decade of academic research on the topic.
Storm surges destroy
Storm surges are particularly large and troublesome sea levels created by storms that can reach heights several meters taller than regular waves do. As such, they can often overtake sea walls and defences causing devastating damage.
The storm surges of Hurricane Katrina were responsible for the death of more than 1500 people in New Orleans. Now, Storm Force will seek to increase public awareness of risks in coastal areas and equip citizens with the necessary skills to survive these natural disasters.
The game works like a simulation seeing players take the role of a cadet with Storm Force, a fictional body dedicated to researching storm surges at at-risk locations. As the game progresses, the cadet player has to battle against time and the elements to protect citizens from ever impending danger.
The cadet is tasked with the difficult missions of evacuating citizens from the waterfront and collecting supplies and invaluable data. Meanwhile, as the player navigates this stormy terrain, the game reveals many important facts regarding surges, such as what causes them, warning signs and life-saving procedures.
The sound of storm surges
Storm Force also has a soundtrack of underwater acoustic signals generated by storms as they approach the coast in order to teach players to recognize the noise. Since these signals travel faster than surges, detecting them is key to early evacuation and safety measure preparations.
“Being able to spot the early warnings of coastal flooding is very useful, especially if you live by or go on holiday near the coast. By playing the game, players will be able to identify the mechanisms that create a storm surge and the risks associated with it," said Storm Force's creator Dr Emiliano Renzi of the School of Science.
“They will also be able to make an informed decision on whether to evacuate a beach if they see a thunderstorm far at sea. This will reduce the number of accidents involving unaware bathers being swept out to sea by storm surges," added Renzi.
But perhaps the most important thing the game does is instill a sense of responsibility in the players encouraging them to take an active stance in climate change mitigation. “The ocean is never too far away, and it affects every living being on the planet," explained Renzi.
"Human activities can affect the ocean on a global scale. Therefore, we have the power to influence such events, no matter where we live."
Renzi hopes Storm Force will be embedded directly into schools' curriculums leading to more future coastal flooding experts. “I also hope the game will inspire their interest in scientific research, and help them appreciate the role of research in mitigating risks.”
Storm Force was funded by the AXA Research Fund and developed by games studio Team Cooper. More information be accessed on its official webpage. Those wanting to actually play the free online game can do so here. Good luck cadets!