Field-based Studies for Nature-based Flood Defenses

Natural & Nature-Based Features for Coastal Resilience

Building with nature offers a paradigm shift in hydraulic engineering by providing a new design philosophy where the dependence upon hard engineering structures (e.g., levees and seawalls) to provide coastal protection is giving way to hybridized solutions incorporating natural and nature-based features (NNBF) for coastal resilience.

Our group investigates the capacity of natural features to attenuate storm surge and wave energy during storms.The foundation of this work is based on large field campaigns that are helping to fill the knowledge gap of in-situ hydrodynamics and wave interactions with natural areas such as marshes during extreme events conditions.

Hurricane Storm Surge Attenuation by Wetlands and Marshes in the Chesapeake Bay

Study Sites in the Chesapeake Bay Region

We are currently working at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (ESVNWR) managed by the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve (DMNAP) and  Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve (MBNAP) managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR); and the Monie Bay Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reservemanaged by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources



Vegetation Characterization for Hydrodynamic Modeling

The goal of these campaigns is to survey key vegetation parameters affecting the resistance to storm surge at each study site. Specifically, the team will be measuring: 1) vegetation height, diameter, stem spacing and modulus of rigidity (where applicable). Acquiring this information is fundamental to correctly representing vegetation flow resistance in the computational model.




Hydrodynamic Data Portal

All data collected in the project is available at the Mason Water Data Information System (MWDIS) Portal on the CUAHSI Hydrological Information System.

 Get data...


GIS Data Portal

 GIS Data for the project is available upon request.

 Sample maps and study sites can be viewed in the ESRI Story Map.






Hurricane Storm Surge Rapid Deployment Campaigns

Our team is mobilized to deploy a vast array of sensors to document the hydrodynamic and waves conditions during extreme events such as Hurricanes, Tropical Storms and Nor'easters in marshes in the Chesapeake Bay. To date, we have recorded more than three years of continuous hydrodynamic conditions including Hurricane Joaquim (2015), Hurricane Matthew (2016), Hurricane Hermine (2016), and Winter Storm Jonas (2015).







Storm Surge Hydrodynamic Modeling

The objective of this task is to combine large scale simulation of hurricane storm surge with high-fidelity modeling of hydrodynamic flow through vegetation. We are currently working on improving the parametrization of regional storm surge models (coupled hydrodynamic-wave model ADCIRC-SWAN) to better represent the storm surge propagation and attenuation in marshes. Future work includes the implementation of high resolution phase resolving models for our field sites.