Carolina Coastal Change Processes

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Introduction


Objectives


Approach


Contacts


COAWST Modeling


Knowledge Exchange


Hurricane Impacts

The temporal variability in volume and distribution of inner continental shelf sediment cover is poorly understood. Likewise, the impacts that high-energy atmospherically driven oceanographic events such as hurricanes have on inner shelf sediment are not well documented. Understanding the form and magnitude of seafloor morphologic change is critical to developing sediment budgets, as well as increasing our knowledge of how these processes are time-integrated into the geologic record of continental margin sedimentation.

The inability to quantify the impacts of high-energy events on sediment transport, morphology, and shallow stratigraphy represents a significant gap in our understanding of modern continental shelf processes. Historically, it has been difficult for oceanographers to gather the data needed to study this phenomenon. However, the past decade of frequent hurricanes in North Carolina, coupled with previous and ongoing work in the region, has provided the necessary data for studies that will provide new and important insight into the individual and cumulative, decadal-scale impacts of high-energy events on the inner continental shelf at two sites on the North Carolina shelf. This task will improve our capabilities to assess coastal vulnerability during storms and links directly to the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program’s National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project.


ROMS model, hurricane Isabel coupled run16

Visualization of numerical model predictions of Hurricane Isabel as it approached the US East
Coast. Arrows show modeled wind vectors and the colors are wave heights. Simulations provide
information of wave heights and currents that are being used to predict coastal erosion during extreme events.