Welcome to the CCHT! We develop computational models for wind waves and coastal circulation, and then apply these models to high-resolution simulations of ocean behavior. Our goals are to understand how coastlines are threatened during storms, how materials are transported in the coastal environment, and how to communicate these hazard risks for use in decision support. Our research spans the disciplines of coastal engineering, numerical methods, computational mathematics, and high-performance computing.

In this web site, we share our research progress, from development to application, and from coding to publishing. Learn more about What We Do and how to Join Our Team.

Conference: FEF 2019

Downscaling ADCIRC Flooding Inundation Extents Using Kalpana

The ADCIRC modeling system is used often to predict coastal flooding due to tropical cyclones and other storms. The model uses high resolution to represent the coastal environment, including flow pathways (inlets, man-made channels, rivers) and hydraulic controls (barrier islands, raised features). However, due to the use of large domains to represent hazards on coastlines in an entire state or multiple states, the highest resolution is typically about 20 to 50 m in coastal regions. Thus, there is a potential gap between the flooding predictions and the true flooding extents. We have developed a geospatial software to downscale the flooding extents to higher resolution.

ADCIRC vs. extrapolated water levels, plan view. This image shows the difference in prediction of flooding extents, with the pale blue portion representing the original ADCIRC flooding extents and red representing the extrapolated extents.

The following documentation is for downscaling the flooding predictions by using Kalpana. This software was created originally to view ADCIRC outputs as either ESRI shapefiles or KML files (for viewing in Google Earth). ADCIRC (the ADvanced CIRCulation model) uses finite element methods to predict water levels throughout the modeled domain. Although this model is able to provide accurate predictions in a matter of minutes, these predictions have a limited resolution and are not able to provide information at the scale of buildings, roadways, and other critical infrastructure.

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Advancing the Understanding of Storm Processes and Impacts

In 2017, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused more than $200 billion dollars of damage in the United States, as well as the incalculable cost of the loss of life and mental trauma associated with these disasters. In a changing climate, sea level rise and the potential for increasing tropical cyclone intensity can result in even more devastating damages. Therefore, engineers, community planners, and coastal residents need accurate, timely, and accessible forecasting of storm processes and their impact on coastal communities to bolster national resilience and reduce risk to life and property during these events. However, along with uncertainties in understanding and modeling of storm processes, there are complex challenges associated with determining and meeting the needs of end users who rely on these forecasts for emergency management decisions.

To determine needed advancements in storm forecasting, the U.S. Coastal Research Program (USCRP) hosted a Storm Processes and Impacts workshop for coastal stakeholders 16-18 April 2018, in St. Petersburg, Florida. The attendees included local coastal managers, emergency managers, state and regional agencies, federal agency scientists and engineers, academics, and private industry scientists and engineers. Workshop objectives were to synthesize present capabilities for modeling storm processes and forecasting impacts and to prioritize advancements. In addition, the workshop provided an opportunity to bridge the apparent gap between the research of coastal scientists and engineers and the information being distributed publicly and to emergency managers before, during, and after storm events.

N Elko, JC Dietrich, M Cialone, H Stockdon, MV Bilskie, B Boyd, B Charbonneau, D Cox, KM Dresback, S Elgar, A Lewis, P Limber, J Long, TC Massey, T Mayo, K McIntosh, N Nadal-Caraballo, B Raubenheimer, T Tomiczek, A Wargula (2019). “Advancing the Understanding of Storm Processes and Impacts.Shore & Beach, 87(1), 41-55.

Influence of Storm Timing and Forward Speed on Tides and Storm Surge during Hurricane Matthew

The amount and extent of coastal flooding caused by hurricanes can be sensitive to the timing or speed of the storm. For storms moving parallel to the coast, the hazards can be stretched over a larger area. Hurricane Matthew was a powerful storm that impacted the southeastern U.S. during October 2016, moving mostly parallel to the coastline from Florida through North Carolina. In this study, three sources for atmospheric forcing are considered for a simulation of Matthew’s water levels, which are validated against extensive observations, and then the storm’s effects are explored on this long coastline. It is hypothesized that the spatial variability of Matthew’s effects on total water levels is partly due to the surge interacting nonlinearly with tides. By changing the time of occurrence of the storm, differences in storm surge are observed in different regions due to the storm coinciding with other periods in the tidal cycles. These differences are found to be as large as 1m and comparable to the tidal amplitude. A change in forward speed of the storm also should alter its associated flooding due to differences in the duration over which the storm impacts the coastal waters. With respect to the forward speed, the present study contributes to established results by considering the scenario of a shore-parallel hurricane. A faster storm caused an increase in peak water levels along the coast but a decrease in the overall volume of inundation. On the other hand, a slower storm pushed more water into the estuaries and bays and flooded a larger section of the coast. Implications for short-term forecasting and long-term design studies for storms moving parallel to long coastlines are discussed herein.

A Thomas, JC Dietrich, TG Asher, M Bell, BO Blanton, JH Copeland, AT Cox, CN Dawson, JG Fleming, RA Luettich (2019). “Influence of Storm Timing and Forward Speed on Tide-Surge Interactions during Hurricane Matthew.” Ocean Modelling, 137, 1-19, DOI:10.1016/j.ocemod.2019.03.004.