Analyzing Evolution and Cost-Benefits of Shore Protection Projects
As part of its civil works mission, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of federally-authorized shore protection projects. To solve the complex problem of modeling and measuring the costs and benefits of protecting existing infrastructure against erosion, inundation and wave attack damages, researchers at the ERDC Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) and the US Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources (IWR) created Beach-fx.
Predicts Accurate Storm Damage Potential
Beach-fx is a comprehensive innovative analytical framework for more accurately evaluating the physical performance and economic benefits and costs of shore protection projects.
The Beach-fx modeling software, which runs on desktop computers, employs an event-based Monte Carlo life cycle simulation. Past approaches to storm damage estimation and shore protection benefits have typically relied on a frequency-based evaluation framework. Beach-fx uses an event-driven approach Geographic Information System (GIS) framework and a database of plausible storms which:
- Evaluates shoreline changes and economic consequences
- Categorizes three damage drivers: inundation, wave-attack and erosion
- Tracks individual damage drivers to allow for evaluation of alternative plans and responses
- Illustrates shoreline changes and resulting damages graphically
- Facilitates evaluation and communication of findings
The analyses that Beach-fx makes are a combination of meteorology, coastal engineering and economic evaluations which trigger an action based on the occurrence of previous events. As a data-driven transparent model, its technical framework incorporates:
- Inherent risk and uncertainty associated with shore protection
- Represented coastal processes
- Combination of engineering and economic behavior
Beach-fx predicts morphology evolution and the associated damages caused by coastal storm events. The system also predicts the costs of shore protection alternatives with risk and uncertainty over multiple project life cycles.
Performs Accurate Cost Evaluation and Project Evolution
Beach-fx incorporates the best current practicable knowledge on coastal processes to perform economic evaluations of storm damage reduction projects. Beach-fx produces not only point estimates and averages, but it also predicts the ranges and distributions of behavior that may be expected to occur
The system links the predictive capability of coastal evolution models with project area infrastructure information (structure inventory), structural damage functions and economic valuations to estimate the costs and benefits of alternative project designs. This enables Beach-fx to provide a more realistic treatment of shore protection project evolution and optimize commonly applied approaches, including:
- User-populated databases that describe the coastal area under study
- Suite of historically-based plausible storm events (environmental forcing) that can impact the area
- Inventory of infrastructure that can be damaged
- Estimates of morphology response to each storm in the plausible storm suite
- Damage driving parameters for erosion, inundation, and wave impact damages
With Beach-fx, all site-specific information is contained within the input databases. This generalizes the model and makes it easy to transport between study areas. Beach-fx integrates the engineering and economic analyses and incorporates uncertainty in both physical parameters and environmental forcing. This enables quantification of risk with respect to project evolution and economic costs and benefits of project implementation.
Since the inception of Beach-fx, CHL researchers have conducted beta and real-world application testing of the technology to mature its development and modeling approach.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Coastal Improvement Project used Beach-fx to help develop a comprehensive plan for hurricane and storm damage reduction along the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico shoreline.
Beach-fx played a role in the research case study which investigated damages prevented by the federal shore protection project at Martin County, Florida during the 2004 tropical season.
CHL engineers directed a test-bed application of Beach-fx in conjunction with a hurricane and storm damage reduction feasibility study for the beaches of Walton County, Florida. Researchers studied 27 miles of shoreline to test and refine many aspects of Beach-fx and its output. CHL researchers also used Beach-fx to conduct a similar storm damage reduction study at Barrow, Alaska
- Modern graphical user interface
- Easy-to-use interfaces access geographical information system data, extensive reporting and visualization, and database population tools
- Event-based Monte Carlo life cycle simulation
- Beach-fx Version 1.0 is current (model upgrades will be made available as research improves capabilities)
- Training is available on an “on demand” basis
- Improvements are being made to address findings of the USACE Planning Model Improvement Program (PMIP)
For more information and to download the Beach-fx software and user’s manual, visit the Beach-fx web page.