Stewart Allen

Visiting Research Scientist - NOAA Center for Tsunami Research

Stewart AllenIt has been 12 months since Stewart Allen first arrived in Seattle to begin an extended visit at JISAO. He hails from Melbourne, Australia where he works as a tsunami research scientist at the Center for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) within the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. There, he is a lead developer of systems that provide tsunami forecasts and warnings for Australia.

Since arriving at JISAO, Stewart has been focusing on learning as much as possible from colleagues at the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research (NCTR) about high-resolution numerical modeling of coastal areas. He has contributed to NCTR’s project goals by developing a tsunami forecast model for Bar Harbor, ME. This model will become part of the SIFT tool used operationally by tsunami warning centers in Hawaii and Alaska, who use SIFT to forecast areas that might be at risk of inundation during a tsunami event.

Stewart’s visit to JISAO and NCTR was a long time in the planning – since 2009, in fact – and is actually one half of an exchange of scientists. In return for Stewart visiting JISAO, Burak Uslu, also of JISAO, is visiting the Bureau of Meteorology, working in Stewart’s place. There, Burak is learning about and contributing to tsunami research in Australia.

The exchange was facilitated through a formal long-term relationship between the US and Australian governments. The skills Stewart has learned from NCTR will be directly relevant when he returns home. In 2013, he plans to begin developing of similar models for use in Australia. Likewise, Burak’s work in Australia will feed back into further development of the warning system for the US.

The path to tsunami modeling for Stewart has been a long one. A keen interest in mathematics and computing, along with a love of the great outdoors led to university studies in meteorology. Oceanography is a related branch of the same Stewart hikingmathematics so when he saw a job opening for tsunami research, he thought his meteorology training would be help and decided to apply. The rest, as they say, is history.

Stewart has certainly made the most of his time while living in Washington state. He is a keen skier and hiker and there are certainly no mountains in Australia like those in the Cascades! He spent many weekends on the white slopes during winter and in the summer he has tried to hike to as many alpine lakes as possible.

It turns out that Burak is a very keen surfer and has been spending many of his weekends at the beach while he is in Australia. Given his hobby, and Stewart’s love of the mountains, it appears the exchange has been a perfect swap!

See Stewart's bio page for more information.