HPAC: Hazard Prediction And Assessment Capability

Hazard Prediction

The Innovative Technology Solutions (ITS) Directorate in Engineered Systems (ES) serves a wide range of customers within the Intelligence Community (IC) and Department of Defense (DoD). Within its portfolio, ITS supports the DoD Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) mission at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), including DTRA’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) solutions. The Hazard Prediction and Assessment Capability (HPAC) software tool is one such solution.

This tool provides emergency response assistance for events involving weapons of mass destruction or catastrophic incidents that unleash chemical, biological, or nuclear material into the atmosphere. HPAC can also be used to model collateral effects of concern that may result from military or industrial accidents. HPAC models and predicts human collateral damage for events involving intentional or unintentional release of chemical, biological, or nuclear materials into the atmosphere or enclosed space.

What sets HPAC apart from the competition is the speed at which it runs. HPAC provides modeling results to decision-makers by interoperating with high-resolution imagery and street maps with critical infrastructure locations and points of interest. Utilizing observations and forecasted weather data provided by DTRA’s Meteorological Data Servers (MDS), modeling and hazard prediction is available to analysts and first responders in minutes and can be run in the field on a laptop computer.

HPAC provides a suite of models for simulating the release of CBRNE materials to the atmosphere and their associated dispersion using detailed meteorological information. These predictions are used to estimate the effects of these CBRNE agents on the physical environment and, to a lesser extent, the resulting impact of that release on an exposed population. HPAC can describe the transport/dispersion of hazardous materials through the atmosphere due to attacks or accidents resulting in radiological, chemical, or biological releases. HPAC uses information on the material source, the amount released into the atmosphere, high-resolution weather forecasts, and particulate transport to model the hazard areas produced by such events.

For example, an HPAC prediction is shown in Figure 1 for a hypothetical scenario of an extreme accidental explosion at a chemical plant in a rural area that causes a release of a hazardous agent into the atmosphere. For this scenario, HPAC predicts over a 12-hour period that 4 people are at 50% risk of death within the red zone, 6 are at 50% risk of injury (casualty) within the orange zone, and 16 are at 10% risk of injury within the orange zone.

Figure 1. HPAC prediction for a hypothetical chemical plant accident releasing a hazardous agent.

HPAC produces such results within minutes by modeling the atmospheric transport and dispersion of these CBRNE events as a series of Gaussian puffs to represent the space and time-varying concentrations of the materials (Figure 2). This Second-order Closure Integrated Puff (SCIPUFF) model within HPAC provides a highly efficient and accurate prediction for a wide range of hazard scenarios applicable from distance ranges of meters or less up to world coverage.

HPAC also has the capability to simulate the release of agents within a city environment and make predictions for the seepage in/out of buildings, plus releases originating inside a building. The Scientific Solutions group within ITS is also working on a new Urban SCIPUFF model designed to simulate the dispersion of material around individual buildings.

Figure 2. Visualization of Gaussian puffs produced by HPAC using the HPAC Analyst tool (Credit: Steven Schneider, ITS Scientific Solutions)

HPAC is actively used and supported by DTRA/RD-OPR Reachback in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, to serve military personnel, federal agencies, and interagency partners following an event involving weapons of mass destruction or a natu­ral disaster that unleashes any chemical, bio­logical, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosive event that is atmospheric in nature. Technical Reachback provides 24 hours a day, 365-day-a-year support and assistance where customers can contact experts to provide “up to the minute” analysis on the full spectrum of Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) threats, answering all questions, predicting outcomes, and planning for worst-case-sce­narios. This includes web portal services that are available as a secure web-based tool for state and federal inter-agencies to request Technical Reachback support.

With the large number of requests for information received each year, there is a strong need for enhanced and new prediction and analysis capabilities in HPAC that drives continuous development and support of this modeling tool – a need for which ITS software developers and scientists have already provided vital support for decades since the original creation of SCIPUFF in the early 1980s. ITS is currently helping DTRA to transition new capabilities into HPAC.

About The Author

Stacey Campbell has over 12 years of experience with HPAC integration, testing, development, and architecture. She has supported HPAC’s development by providing technical support, guidance, management, and software security. As a representative for the HPAC Integration program, she has coordinated between HPAC developers, users, testers, government stakeholders, and representatives of other programs to ensure that each release is a useful and reliable product.

About The Author

Peter Rochford has over 33 years of experience serving Department of Defense clients. Over his career, he has applied his talents to solving problems associated with oceanography, meteorology, nuclear physics, chemical and biological hazards, modeling and simulation, machine learning, sensor data fusion, and Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CUAS). Peter is a prolific researcher and author of 21 papers published in technical journals and 45 technical reports.

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