Resilience; Climate Change; Vehicle Aerodynamics (Road and Rail) and Infrastructure; Transport Systems; Wind Engineering and Wind Energy resource assessment
Professor Quinn’s research interests cover the broad field of resilience to environmental factors, such as climate change and extreme weather events, and the field of transport systems including pollution and air-quality issues. In resilience to climate change there are significant potential long-term implications for infrastructure adaptation and use that a changing climate and changing social usage patterns will mean. In the short-term there are also significant disruptive potentials from extreme weather events, near- or beyond-capacity usage and aging infrastructure with faster or heavier vehicles. Underpinning both of these fields is an interest in the fundamental study of wind features in the atmospheric boundary layer including coherent structures, extreme wind gusts and the role of topography on wind conditions.
Professor Quinn has been involved in research projects including the 'EPSRC CDFA project Resilience through Innovation: critical local transport and utility infrastructure' and 'iBUILD' which took a multi-disciplinary approach to planning the infrastructure of the future. He was also involved in the EPSRC ARCC FUTURENET project, which first developed quantitative approaches to resilience evaluation; the EU FP7 AeroTRAIN project, which streamlined the assessment of aerodynamic safety for new trains; and 'EU WEATHER – Wind Early Alarm System for Terrestrial Transport Handling Evaluation of Risks' which sought to improve road safety through an understanding of side-wind forces on large vehicle, a major cause of accidents. These major projects complimented many studies of road and rail vehicle slipstreams and the effect on road/trackside objects that Professor Quinn has undertaken for UK and international clients.
Currently Professor Quinn is a partner in the EU RDF project SIRMA - Strengthening Infrastructure Risk Management in the Atlantic Area. This work will build novel decision support for road and rail organisations looking to build their infrastructure resilience to the changing hazards faced in coastal areas. Professor Quinn was also a work package lead for ASAP-East Africa, the international development project helping cities in the region to develop economically whilst maintaining and improving air quality for residents.
In the field of Wind Energy, Professor Quinn has been involved in the testing of micro-scale wind turbines and wind energy resource assessment at all scales. Underpinning this is an interest in the study of vortex structure identification, and other types of non-synoptic wind features, in the atmospheric boundary layer and their impacts on transport systems, structures and pollutant movement through the environment.
This has led to several projects evaluating the risk to vehicles in exposed locations and the potential for local recapture of pollution by vegetation.
Professor Quinn has also carried out a studies of extreme wind characteristics for Network Rail, wind structure characterisation, the effects of topography and urban buildings on local wind conditions and vehicle slipstream effects, including ballast movement under high-speed trains. These studies have been geared toward the improvement of safety for road and rail workers as well as the general public and has led to new operational guidelines and the revision of British Standards.
An important element of all these studies has been the interplay between full-scale measurements, computational modelling and complex data assimilation during the analysis phase. Bringing these elements together in a coherent and sensible way is a challenge because of the very different backgrounds each has developed from and the very diverse assumptions each therefore makes. This raises a number interesting practical and statistical issues for future research.