Snapshots of a few recent and ongoing research projects:

Ports and Sea Level Rise 

A collaborative project with the Port of Virginia, Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center (VMASC) and ODU ITS evaluated the exposure and vulnerability of critical infrastructure at a port terminal in Hampton Roads. The project integrated infrastructure and models of storm surges and sea level rise to guide the port’s long-term planning and resilience.  The first project at Norfolk International Terminal was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Review Board (TRB) and published in the Transportation Research Record in 2017. Link.

A new study is underway to compare the sea level rise exposure a 4 major East Coast ports (New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah) and assessing 16 cargo container terminals. This study will be completed in fall 2019 and submitted to a special issue of Maritime Policy and Management and a report for the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency (CCRFR).

Innovative Geospatial Techniques for Community Flood Risk Mapping

A project funded by the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant program in collaboration with Virginia Dept. of Emergency Mgt. and VIMS is underway summer-fall 2019. The analysis combines field-based mapping of first floor elevations (FFEs) using laser range-finder/inclinometers and GPS with geostatistical analysis. Combining the field measurements with high-resolution topographic LiDAR through geostatistics will allow efficient estimation of residential building heights and improve the estimation of damage from flooding (i.e., better results with depth-damage curves as calculated by FEMA in programs such as HAZUS.) Results will be ready in spring 2020 and presented at the annual AAG and Virginia Emergency Management Association meetings.

Coastal Change along Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Working with the US National Park Service, colleagues and I from ECU undertook a vulnerability assessment of the seashore’s renowned historic landmarks to multiple coastal hazards, including coastal erosion, storm surges, and sea level rise. The insights from this assessment identify spatial and temporal patterns of susceptibility that can guide long-range financial and adaptation plans for these iconic structures.  The new phase of this project looks forward to predicting shoreline change impacts to natural resources, ecosystems and endangered and protected species focusing on Hatteras Island.

Linking Coastal Water Infrastructure, Public Health, and Sea Level Rise

I recently finished a NOAA Climate Program Office project in collaboration with NC and SC Sea Grant and ECU.  We addressed ongoing and future increasing challenges of sea level rise affecting coastal community water infrastructure and specifically the implications for human health in coastal cities and towns.  One of the innovative aspects of this project was combining sea level rise with storm surge, tidal flooding, and environmental health and emergency management preparedness and operational response processes.  We created tabletop exercises for the public health, emergency management, hospital, utilities, and environmental planning professionals to collaborate and assess future vulnerability (using story maps, a 2030 hurricane disaster scenario, and full-fledged GIS databases for both Charleston, SC, and the Town of Morehead City, NC.) An article on the project was published in the journal Public Works Management & Policy, special issue Climate Change and Infrastructure: The Coming Challenge. Here

Mid-Atlantic Communities At Intensive Risk: A NASA Disasters Program Demonstration Study

Along with collaborators at VIMS, U. Alabama, GMU, and NASA Langley Research Center, our team is conducting an applied demonstration study of Nasa Earth Observations, modeling and geospatial integration for prediction and improved decision support of coastal disasters. Focusing on a reanalysis of 2011 Hurricane Irene in North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia, we are linking up to improve flood modeling, remote sensing mapping, and impact predictions for developing the next generation of integrated risk management. Story maps here describe the project.

South Atlantic and Florida Salt Marsh Mapping and Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise

A large project supported by the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative sought to create consistent spatial datasets of high and low marshes across the southeast USA, depicting fine-scale extents, current distributions, and future vulnerability. The project provides estimates for the entire South Atlantic region and additional detailed information for 3 intensive study areas in NC, SC, and GA.  This project is also being continued with support from the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) and the constituent states involved with management of sensitive Black Rail habitat, expanding the mapping of marsh habitats through southern Georgia and Florida into 2019.  The project combines Landsat 8 satellite data from USGS and a network of expert avian habitat and coastal management specialists.

Rip Current Hazard Cartography

In collaboration with ECU and the National Weather Service, I participate on a team developing and refining new potential rip current warning maps and graphics. The visualizations are being tested on a sample of public users as well as key decision-makers such as emergency managers and lifeguards ahead of potential operationalization for future NWS beach and rip current hazard forecasts. Results will were presented at the 2018 NOAA-sponsored Social Coast Forum.

NC Coastal Atlas, Coastal WebGIS and Spatial Bibliography

Along with partners at ECU, NOAA, APNEP and NC Division of Coastal Management, I developed a webGIS for the NC coast focusing on bringing diverse geographic information to a broader audience in an accessible platform. Besides a large catalog of streamed and ECU-hosted GIS data, the NC Coastal Atlas also provides a unique spatial bibliography for research on the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary system and wider NC coast.  The atlas also supports an interactive clearinghouse of maps for the NOAA NC Sentinel Site Cooperative and the NC Land of Water non-profit organization.

Other ongoing and near-term research projects:

Improving Coastal Digital Elevation Models for Inundation Hazards and Hydrology

Geovisualization for Coastal Hazards

Applications of Drones/UAVs to Coastal Resilience and Environmental Management

Paleolandforms, Cryptogeomorphology, and Coastal Retreat