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1951-1990

1956     1965     1966     1967     1969     1970     1975     1984

Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.

1956

Studies in Synoptic Climatology

Stephen Dodd, Jay Forrester, Robert Everett, and Ramona Ferenz at Whirlwind I test control in the Barta Building, 1950.
Whirlwind 1 computer, 1950.
Credit: MIT, used with permission

In the wake of World War II, several engineers and scientists who had developed techniques to help in the war effort worked to apply those same techniques to address societal activities. Studies of the influences of weather on business and agricultural activities were prominent among these efforts. In 1952, a group of scientists at MIT led by Thomas F. Malone (1917-2013) started a project to expand previous work to predict atmospheric parameters with statistical techniques. The project benefited greatly from the availability of Whirlwind I, one of the first high-speed computers. A 1956 MIT report summarizes the results of these researchers, among whom was Edward N. Lorenz, the father of Chaos Theory. One of the graduate students in the group was Don G. Friedman, who would become the pioneer of natural catastrophe modeling.

Report Citation

William Sellers (Ed.), Studies in Synoptic Climatology. Cambridge, MA: Department of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1956.


Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.
Earthquake of March 10, 1933 damage to John Muir School, Pacific Ave. in Long Beach. View showing damage to School. March 19, 1933. Photo by W.L. Huber.
1933 Long Beach, CA earthquake damage.
Credit: USGS, public domain

1965

Earthquake Investigations in the Western United States 1931-1964

In 1965 the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey published a report that contained several landmark studies which provided systematic data for the first estimates of earthquake damage modeling. A study of the 1933 Long Beach, CA earthquake conducted by Romeo R. Martel (1890-1965), a Caltech professor, provided useful information for successive earthquake engineering modeling efforts.


Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.

1966

Insurance and other Programs for Financial Assistance to Flood Victims

In 1965 Congress appointed task forces with technical teams of experts to analyze the requirements for a national insurance fund operation. One team was led by Don G. Friedman (1925-2018), the pioneer of catastrophe modeling from Travelers Insurance Co., who put together a computer simulation to assess inland and coastal flood risk. The other team included Myron Fiering (1934-1992) and John C. Schaake from the Harvard Water Program. Thanks to the work of these teams, the National Flood Insurance Program was passed by Congress in 1966.

National Flood Insurance Program Logo, graphic of three houses with water
Credit: National Flood Insurance Program, public domain

 


Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.

1967

Cover of John Schaake Jr. and Myron Fiering, Simulation of a National Flood Insurance Fund. Water Resources Research, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp. 913-929. December 1967.
Cover, Simulation of a National Flood Insurance Fund.
Credit: University of Florida, used with permission

Simulation of a National Flood Insurance Fund

Two expert groups evaluated the technical aspects of the insurance fund for the National Flood Insurance Program: one from the Harvard Water Program and another from Travelers Insurance Co. The Harvard group included Myron Fiering (lead), John Schaake, and Herbert Winokur. The group used a computer simulation which evaluated inland flood risk and tested the effect of specific scenarios on the insurance program. Their 1967 report contains the technical details of the model. Both teams were early implementers of the Monte Carlo technique to simulate systems. 


Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.

1969

Acetate Overlay Maps of Hurricane Camille

Don Friedman’s hurricane catastrophe model characterized the spatial distribution of maximum wind speeds over the infrastructural inventory of a region. These acetates, used by Friedman himself in one of his presentations, show the wind speed pattern of storms making landfall along the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard from New Jersey to Rhode Island. The methodology was aimed at predicting the damaging effects caused by natural hazards, and at ascertaining the influence that changes in the extent and vulnerability of the built-environment could have in the damaging potential of hurricanes.

Acetate Overlay Maps of Hurricane Camille 1969
Acetate Overlay Maps of Hurricane Camille 1969_2

Acetate Overlay Maps of Hurricane Camille from the private collection of Gonzalo Pita.

Map Citation

Don Friedman, Acetate Overlay Maps of Hurricane Camille 1969. Hartford, CT: c. 1975.


Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.

1970

Earthquake Hazard Reduction

Earthquake damage data contains helpful information for engineering designers, planners, and policy makers. One of the leading figures in conducting field inspections to inform structural design, planning, and public policy was Karl V. Steinbrugge (1919-2001), a structural engineer, faculty member at UC Berkeley and later at the Pacific Fire Rating Bureau. Steinbrugge and other engineers: such as Romeo R. Martel, Frank McClure, Ted Algermissen, and John Blume, made important contributions to earthquake engineering. This report from 1970 summarizes the observations and contributions from Steinbrugge’s long career.

Back and front view of Karl Steinbrugge, Earthquake Hazard Reduction  Washington, DC: Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1970, map of the United States of America
Cover, Earthquake Hazard Reduction.

Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.

1975

Computer Simulation in Natural Hazard Assessment

Cover photograph of Don Friedman's Computer Simulation in Natural Hazard Assessment Boulder, CO: Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, 1975
Cover, Computer Simulation in Natural Hazard Assessment.
Credit: University of Colorado, used with permission

The Assessment of Research on Natural Hazards project was an offshoot of the National Flood Insurance Program to study how adjustments in public policy and new research would help to reach the national aims of natural risk reduction. The project, led by Gilbert White from 1972 to 1975 at the University of Colorado, gathered a multidisciplinary team of experts. One of them, Don Friedman, collaborated with several researchers in the application of the catastrophe modeling approach that he had developed. Friedman's 1975 monograph became directly or indirectly the key resource for most, if not all, the subsequent natural catastrophe modeling endeavors in the United States and the world.


Graphic of equation from Don G. Friedman's 1975 report to calculate risk.
Photograph of when Don Friedman (left) returned to Hartford from Albany and was congratulated by Edward H. Budd (right), President of the Travelers Insurance Companies, on receiving the AMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advance of Applied Meteorology. Bulletin American Meteorological Society, Vol. 57, No. 8, August 1976, page 1037
Don Friedman (left), 1976.
Credit: Bulletin, American Meteorological Society, used with permission

1984

Natural Hazard Risk Assessment for an Insurance Program

In 1984 Don Friedman published a summary paper which presented the characteristics of the catastrophe models and studies that he had developed since the mid 1950’s. This paper addressed a wide spectrum of natural hazards and was influential in disseminating aspects of catastrophe modeling to a large multidisciplinary audience around the world.

 

Created August 10, 2020, Updated August 13, 2020