Duck, N.C., -- The collaborative During Nearshore Event Experiment pilot study is now underway along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, home to the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory’s Field Research Facility.
DUNEX is a multi-agency, academic and non-governmental organization collaborative community experiment to study nearshore coastal processes during coastal storms. The multi-phase experiment plan begins with the pilot study, followed by the full experiment starting in fall 2020 and extending into winter 2021.
Dr. Britt Raubenheimer, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said she hopes that via DUNEX “we will engage with the community to understand local issues, we will develop new fundamental understanding of and improve models for interactions among ocean, land and atmospheric processes during extreme storms, and we will transfer our knowledge and data to stakeholders, managers and the scientists.”
The pilot study is an opportunity for research groups to deploy, test and develop their capabilities to observe and analyze nearshore events and their impacts to prepare for the full experiment. The northern Outer Banks, North Carolina, extending from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore north to the Virginia border, was selected as the region of focus, due to the prevalence of coastal storms that impact the area annually, such as the passage of Hurricane Dorian early this season. CHL’s FRF serves as a central location for the research, and multiple CHL staff members are working with other U.S. Coastal Research Program partners, such as the U.S. Geological Survey and WHOI in particular, to facilitate the overall effort.
DUNEX is part of the USCRP effort to develop a national coordinated science research program to address societal needs along the coast. USCRP is a collaboration of federal agencies, academia and stakeholders that aim to identify research needs, foster research opportunities, enhance funding for academic programs and promote science translation.
“It has been great to see the agencies most concerned with coastal erosion collaborating with academic researchers, with the common goal of understanding the processes that threaten our shores," said Chris Sherwood, a research oceanographer with USGS.
CHL is looking forward to continuing its legacy of using its Field Research Facility to facilitate landmark studies of the coastal environment and hopes that DUNEX is a great next chapter in the long history of coastal research. As coastal communities work hard to defend against extreme events, efforts like DUNEX will hopefully help to overcome them.
“It's been an interesting challenge organizing and facilitating this multi-investigator experiment” said Dr. Kate Brodie, a research oceanographer stationed at CHL’s FRF. “There hasn't been one funding source, so there are no real requirements for participation, and no one person in charge. We're dealing with multiple government agencies, multiple academic institutions, all while trying to engage our local communities – there have definitely been some bumps in the road.
“On the other hand, we live in an age of open access and collaborative sharing, so it's been fun to use modern technology to bring the community together and coalesce around the best path forward. Some things have worked better than others, but communication has been key."
Stakeholders participating in the pilot study include the ERDC, the National Park Service, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the North Carolina Department of Transportation; academic entities including George Mason University, North Carolina State University, East Carolina University, Northeastern University, Oregon State University, Queen’s University, Rutgers University, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Delaware, the University of Florida, the University of North Carolina, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Washington, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; and industry or Non-governmental organizations including Dewberry and the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
The ERDC helps solve the nation’s most challenging problems in civil and military engineering, geospatial sciences, water resources and environmental sciences. As one of the most diverse engineering and scientific research organizations in the world, the ERDC conducts research and development in support of the Soldier, military installations and the Corps of Engineers' civil works mission, as well as for other federal, state and municipal authorities. As part of the ERDC, CHL addresses an entire spectrum of water resource challenges in groundwater, watersheds, rivers, reservoirs, estuaries, harbors, coastal inlets and wetlands. CHL’s FRF is an internationally recognized observatory and premier location for coastal field studies.