Sign up to receive an email update when a new issue of Sound Waves is available.

close window

Link to USGS home page
Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter - Coastal Science and Research News from Across the USGS
Home || Sections: Cover Stories | Fieldwork | Research | Outreach | Meetings | Awards | Staff & Center News | Publications || Archives

 

Cover Story

Scientists Prepare for Hurricane Season with New Tools and Data that Advance Forecasting of Storm Impacts



in this issue:
 next story

As hurricane season officially begins, scientists with the USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards (NACCH) project are ready to provide scientific information, data, and tools to guide hurricane response and recovery efforts for U.S. shorelines.

Since 2011, NACCH researchers have provided forecasts of coastal erosion based on lidar-derived beach morphology and modeled storm waves and water levels. Scenario-based forecasts are updated every year using simulated hurricane waves and surge and the most recent beach morphology from the USGS. These scenarios can be used to plan for potential future storm impacts. During a landfalling storm, storm-specific probabilities of coastal change are made using real-time waves and surge forecasts from NOAA. Both scenario-based and real-time forecasts of coastal erosion are available in the Coastal Change Hazards Portal and are updated as conditions change.

Coastal-change forecast for Hurricane Matthew on October 7, 2016. Red areas indicate a high probability of storm-induced coastal change.
Above: Coastal-change forecast for Hurricane Matthew on October 7, 2016. Red areas indicate a high probability of storm-induced coastal change. [larger version]

In collaboration with the National Weather Service (NWS), the NACCH project has also developed an operational total water level and coastal change forecast viewer. This viewer is updated several times a day with real-time water levels from the NWS Nearshore Wave Prediction System and is currently available for five pilot locations along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts. By the end of the 2017 hurricane season, the model will cover 2,600 kilometers (1,616 miles) of coastline in select areas from Florida through Maine, and will ultimately be available for the entire U.S. coastline. The USGS viewer includes predictions of the timing and magnitude of water levels at the shoreline and potential impacts to coastal dunes. These new capabilities are enhancing the Nation’s overall approach to storm-impact forecasting. NOAA will be incorporating both the water-level and coastal-erosion probability forecasts into their guidance for meteorologists at select NWS Weather Forecasting Offices.

The operational total water level and coastal change forecast viewer shows the timing and elevation of water levels along with dune crest and toe height for Juno Beach, Florida, during the approach of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Above: The operational total water level and coastal change forecast viewer shows the timing and elevation of water levels along with dune crest and toe height for Juno Beach, Florida, during the approach of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. [larger version]

The data used to support these analyses are available for download on the Coastal Change Hazards Portal and via USGS data releases. Lidar-based beach morphology—the dune crest, dune toe, shoreline, and beach slope—are provided for every 10 meters (32.8 feet) alongshore. The mean (tide, surge) and extreme (tide, surge, runup) storm-induced water levels, which estimate how high water is expected to be at the shoreline associated with an impending storm, are also provided.

The NACCH project is constantly working to improve forecasts of coastal change through observations and research. A newly installed video camera at Madeira Beach, Florida, collects observations of the coast that can be used to monitor a range of processes, such as beach and dune erosion during extreme storm events. These observations are used to evaluate models for predicting water levels at the shoreline driven by surge and waves, and to help improve our understanding of coastal processes during storms when traditional surveys are too dangerous.

Elevated water levels on Madeira Beach, Florida, as predicted by the operational total water level and coastal change forecast viewer (top) and observed from the video camera (bottom) on January 22, 2017.
Above: Elevated water levels on Madeira Beach, Florida, as predicted by the operational total water level and coastal change forecast viewer (top) and observed from the video camera (bottom) on January 22, 2017. [larger version]

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, are another new tool for NACCH project scientists to obtain rapid response observations of the coast. Equipped with a small digital camera, a UAS can be deployed to collect aerial imagery before and after storm events. With a flight time of 10-15 minutes, the UAS can capture images from a stationary position to create standard image products for extracting water levels, shoreline position, and bathymetry. Additionally, the UAS can fly along the coast capturing multiple snapshot images, from which elevation data can be extracted using a new technique termed Structure-from-Motion (SfM).

Orthomosaic images of Matanzas, Florida
Above: Orthomosaic images of Matanzas, Florida, from (a) before and (b) after Hurricane Matthew, and (c) a digital elevation model (DEM) showing the associated topographic change. Note, these results were produced by applying Structure-from-Motion (SfM) to NOAA oblique photographs, but similar results can be obtained using UAS aerial imagery. Figure credit: Chris Sherwood, USGS. [larger version]

The 3DR Solo with GoPro Hero4 camera and gimbal.
Above: The 3DR Solo with GoPro Hero4 camera and gimbal. Coming to a beach near you soon. Photo credit: Shawn Harrison, USGS. [larger version]

Related Sound Waves Stories
Coastal and Marine Geology is Airborne!
April 2017
First USGS Coastal Maps from Unmanned Aerial Systems
June / July 2016
Before-and-After Photos: SE Beach Dunes Lost to Hurricane Matthew
Oct.–Dec. 2016
This Hurricane Season, Scientists Bring Wave Action into the Picture
June / July 2016

Related Websites
Coastal Change Hazards Portal
USGS
Operational total water level and coastal change forecast viewer
USGS
Madeira Beach video camera
USGS
National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards
USGS
Eyes on the Coast—Using video imagery to study coastal change
USGS

 next story

 

print this issue print this issue

in this issue:

Cover Story
Scientists Prepare for Hurricane Season with New Tools and Data

News Briefs
News Briefs

Research
Disappearing Beaches: Shoreline Change in Southern California

Field Work
Recent Fieldwork

Outreach
Deep-Water ROV Dives at Methane Seeps

Scientists Inspiring Students

Meetings
Sam Johnson is Keynote Speaker at Geological Conference in South Africa

Publications
May Publications

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2017/05/index.html
Page Contact Information: Feedback
Page Last Modified: June 06, 2017 @ 12:50 PM