News: Preparing for a Changing Climate

2023/01/11 – UDaily, University of Delaware
UD civil engineers lead research to examine models for coastal readiness at U.S. military bases

University of Delaware civil engineers are leading a multi-institutional effort to identify the best models to calculate flood risk at coastal military installations where climate change threatens to increase the risk of flood damage from sea level rise and storm surge.

The four-year project, which launched in mid-2022 and will run through spring 2025, is funded by a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Project partners include faculty and students from the Netherlands, North Carolina State University, the University of South Alabama, Texas A&M and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

“The goal is to provide guidance to the DoD about the strengths and weaknesses of each model in comparison. They’re all going to have things they’re good with and things they struggle with,” Dietrich said. Those comparisons will help the agencies decide what types of models they want to use to get what types of information — depending on how much time, effort and funding they want to commit.

There’s also a goal of reducing cost and building smarter models, he said.

“If we are able to improve our predictions at very specific sites along the coast, we also can have better predictions at other specific sites along the coast, like someone’s house or a bridge or other infrastructure,” Dietrich said.

Conference: YCSECA 2022

Comparative Assessment of Total Water Levels for Coastal Military Facility Readiness and Resilience using Numerical Models

This project will compare numerical and empirical model predictions of coastal flooding at representative military facilities, with the goal of identifying the best practice for any facility. Unlike previous efforts, this project will consider a suite of open-source numerical models, which include all of the relevant physics that contribute to total water levels, such as sea level rise, tides, wind-induced surge, wave runup, and infragravity motions. Total water levels will be predicted for selected tropical cyclones and storm events with varying tracks and intensities, to represent the full range of possible forcings at each location. Locations include facilities on the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts and in the Pacific Ocean to represent the full range of coastal geographies. Model performance will be compared with respect to inundation depths, timing and duration of flooding at each installation, as well as computational costs. This comparative assessment will inform the use of the most appropriate model in terms of resolved physics and computational effort for predictions of total water levels at any facility, thus enhancing military installation readiness and resilience, in direct support of DoD and ESTCP priorities.

JA Puleo, JC Dietrich, J Figlus, K Nederhoff, F Shi, SM Smallegan, CD Storlazzi, A van Dongeren. “Comparative assessment of total water levels for coastal military facility readiness and resilience using numerical models.” Department of Defense, Environmental Security Technology Certificate Program, 2022/04/13 to 2026/04/12, $2,177,000 (Dietrich: $346,000).