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Chasing Storms: Unraveling the physics behind coastal vulnerabilities

UTIG Seminars

Chasing Storms:
Unraveling the physics behind coastal vulnerabilities

Dr. Jesse E. McNinch
Director, Field Research Facility
Coastal Hydraulics Lab, ERDC

When: Friday, January 21, 2011, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Join us for coffee beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Seminar Conference Room, 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 196-ROC, Austin, Texas 78758
Host: Sean Gulick, UTIG

Live Broadcast

image from Jesse's talk

A common thread that is woven throughout the fabric of coastal management and many storm vulnerability predictions is the idea that storm forces are relatively uniform and 2-dimensional over regional scales. Simply put, this idea holds that during a given event, oceanographic conditions (e.g. wave height, surge) vary in the cross-shore direction but minimally over large, storm-scale distances in the alongshore (USGS vulnerability project is a notable exception to this approach). Warning information disseminated to the public of potential shoreline erosion and coastal inundation often reflects this assumption of alongshore uniformity over regional, storm-scale distances. Frequent observations (dt = 12hr) of the beach and nearshore during high-energy storm events over large field sites (~10 km) using Coastal Lidar And Radar Imaging System (CLARIS) suggest that the nearshore wave field is extremely variable in time and alongshore space. Shoreline change and coastal inundation is similarly variable on length scales of meters and between the building and waning periods of the storm. CLARIS, a fully mobile storm-proof vehicle, couples X-Band Radar with a 3-dimensional terrestrial laser scanner, providing observations of beach topography, nearshore bathymetry from radar-derived wave celerity measurements, and wave runup over large distances and in very harsh conditions. Many equations and assumptions based on pre & post-storm measurements of shoreline change and spatially-limited oceanographic data are unraveling when compared to CLARIS observations.