The Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory’s Field Research Facility (FRF) is located on the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Duck, North Carolina. Since its formation, the cornerstone of the FRF’s contribution to coastal research has been its long-term data measurements that stretch back to 1977. Few locations on the globe provide a better archive of wave, water, bathymetry and other forces that shape nearshore conditions. The records have evolved through time alongside the development of new tools, technologies, and approaches. Much of the current research at the FRF has not only served to further advance these capabilities, but has supported the conversion of these technologies into transferrable tools to support research or coastal project design, construction, and operation in other locations.
In addition to the 560-m pier that is central to its character, other facilities include a multipurpose conference room, 43-m observation tower. The suite of instruments include measures of water and meteorological conditions, remote sensing technologies such as video, radar, sonar, and lidar, and the cross-shore array of instruments and wave buoys that stretch from the shore to the continental shelf. The facility makes use of typical vessels as well as specialized vehicles such as the Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy (CRAB) and five-ton Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo vessels (LARC-V) to conduct surveys and deploy instruments. The staff of scientists, engineers, and technicians are known for their ability to collect data, design experiments, and conduct research in the harsh oceanic environment.
Research conducted at the FRF on weather, waves, currents, tides and changes in nearshore morphology has had global impact. Long-term bathymetry surveys have defined how beach and nearshore sand bars respond to seasonal and storm changes. Highly resolved wave information has provided new knowledge of the major forces that affect our coasts. Sediment transport data gathered during storms has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of our beach erosion prediction capabilities. The long-term measurements have made the property one of the best studied beaches in the world and have informed countless discoveries, journal papers, reports, theses, and PhD dissertations.
The FRF is an ideal location for conducting a wide variety of coastal studies, informing diverse applications that range from Navy remote sensing to Civil Works coastal sediment management to renewable energy development testing. The rich datasets make the FRF an ideal test bed for USACE and other stakeholders to assess and develop coastal models that inform a number of coastal operations and activities.
Points of Contact
Contact: Dr. Jeffrey Waters
Phone: (252) 261-6840 x229
Updated 28 August 2020