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Boston, MA, United States

Catastrophe bonds are used by the insurance and reinsurance industry and by national governments to cede catastrophic risks to the financial markets. Triggers whose outcomes depend only on the earthquake parameter data published by respected third parties can be implemented to determine without moral hazard whether the bond principal is paid for a certain event. Sensitivity analyses to different design assumptions show that these transactions are often affected by trigger error, unless a sufficiently dense geographic discretization is selected to define the trigger zones. A process of general application to any geography is developed to minimize the trigger error. The methodology is illustrated with the design of a hypothetical cat bond for Costa Rica. © 2010, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

Tolwinski-Ward S.E.,Air Worldwide Corporation | Tingley M.P.,Pennsylvania State University | Evans M.N.,University of Maryland University College | Hughes M.K.,University of Arizona | Nychka D.W.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research
Climate Dynamics | Year: 2014

We explore a probabilistic, hierarchical Bayesian approach to the simultaneous reconstruction of local temperature and soil moisture from tree-ring width observations. The model explicitly allows for differing calibration and reconstruction interval responses of the ring-width series to climate due to slow changes in climatology coupled with the biological climate thresholds underlying tree-ring growth. A numerical experiment performed using synthetically generated data demonstrates that bimodality can occur in posterior estimates of past climate when the data do not contain enough information to determine whether temperature or moisture limitation controlled reconstruction-interval tree-ring variability. This manifestation of nonidentifiability is a result of the many-to-one mapping from bivariate climate to time series of tree-ring widths. The methodology is applied to reconstruct temperature and soil moisture conditions over the 1080–1129 C.E. interval at Methusalah Walk in the White Mountains of California, where co-located isotopic dendrochronologies suggest that observed moisture limitations on tree growth may have been alleviated. Our model allows for assimilation of both data sources, and computation of the probability of a change in the climatic controls on ring-width relative to those observed in the calibration period. While the probability of a change in control is sensitive to the choice of prior distribution, the inference that conditions were moist and cool at Methuselah Walk during the 1080–1129 C.E. interval is robust. Results also illustrate the power of combining multiple proxy data sets to reduce uncertainty in reconstructions of paleoclimate. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Sasanian S.,Air Worldwide Corporation | Newson T.A.,University of Western Ontario
Soils and Foundations | Year: 2014

Although extensive research has been conducted on the mechanical behaviour of Portland cement-treated soft clays, there has been less emphasis on the correlation of the observed behaviour with clay mineralogy. In this study, experimental results from the authors have been combined with the data found in the literature to investigate the effect of parameters such as curing time, cement content, moisture content, liquidity index, and mineralogy on the mechanical properties of cement-treated clays. The findings show that undrained shear strength and sensitivity of cemented clays still continue to increase after relatively long curing times; expressions are proposed to predict the strength and sensitivity with time. This parametric study also indicates the relative importance of the activity of the soil, as well as the water-cement ratio, to the mechanical properties of cementitious admixtures. Two new empirical parameters are introduced herein. Based on the results of unconfined compression, undrained triaxial, and oedometer tests on cement-enhanced clays, expressions that use these parameters to predict undrained shear strength, yield stress, and the slope of the compression line are proposed. The observed variations in the mechanical behaviour with respect to mineralogy and the important effect of curing time are explained in terms of the pozzolanic reactions. The possible limitations of applying Abrams' law to cement-admixed clays are also discussed. © 2014 The Japanese Geotechnical Society.

Shu C.,Air Worldwide Corporation | Ouarda T.B.M.J.,Masdar Institute of Science and Technology
Water Resources Research | Year: 2012

In this paper, improved flow duration curve (FDC) and area ratio (AR) based methods are developed to obtain better daily streamflow estimation at ungauged sites. A regression based logarithmic interpolation method which makes no assumption on the distribution or shape of a FDC is introduced in this paper to estimate regional FDCs. The estimated FDC is combined with a spatial interpolation algorithm to obtain daily streamflow estimates. Multiple source sites based AR methods, especially the geographical distance weighted AR (GWAR) method, are introduced in an effort to maximize the use of regional information and improve the standard AR method (SAR). Performances of the proposed approaches are evaluated using a jackknife procedure. The application to 109 stations in the province of Quebec, Canada indicates that the FDC based methods outperform AR based methods in all the summary statistics including Nash, root mean squared error (RMSE), and Bias. The number of sites that show better performances using the FDC based approaches is also significantly larger than the number of sites showing better performances using AR based methods. Using geographical distance weighted multiple sources sites based approaches can improve the performance at the majority of the catchments comparing with using the single source site based approaches. Copyright 2012 by the American Geophysical Union.

Tolwinski-Ward S.E.,Air Worldwide Corporation
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems | Year: 2015

A spatially resolved climatology for the annual frequency of tropical cyclone (TC) landfalls along the Atlantic coast of North America is developed, and its uncertainty deriving from multiple sources is quantified. Historical landfall counts in piecewise-linear segments approximating the coastline are modeled using Poisson regression with spatial random effects. Predictors include index representations of the mean hurricane-season phases of the Southern Oscillation, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, and the North Atlantic Oscillation, with the effect of the latter also modeled spatially. This spatial generalized linear model for landfall frequency is used in conjunction with a data level accounting explicitly for the time-dependent uncertainty in the recorded landfall positions. The model performs skillfully in cross-validation exercises. The inferred effects of the climatic predictors are also consistent with current scientific understanding of the mechanisms through which related large-scale climatic variability affects the development and motion of Atlantic tropical cyclones. Sampling variability in the data over the short length of the observational record and observational error in the historical data are found to contribute substantially to the overall climatological uncertainty. The contribution from uncertainty in the underlying model parameters is negligible compared to these other sources. The model presented here could be used for applications in insurance and risk management, and adaptations could also be used to investigate changes in TC landfall climatology under an uncertain and changing climate. © 2015. The Authors.

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