The project that I developed in the fall semester of 2017 investigated the protective services of coastal marshes during extreme storm events. This project employed the high-resolution numerical model X-Beach (Roelvink et al,. 2009) to simulate nearshore processes operating in coastal marshes such as erosion, wave transformation over the vegetation field, and flooding. The goal was to successfully setup and calibrate the numerical model to simulate coastal hazards at a protective area of the Chesapeake Bay and to validate the results of the model with in-situ observations collected in the field during severe storm events.
The OSCAR fellowship gave me the opportunity of joining Dr. Ferreira’s Flood Hazards Research Lab (FHRL) as an undergraduate research assistant. During the fall semester, I widely improved my understanding about the coastal protection benefits that nature-based defenses including saltmarhes potentially provide for during extreme storm events. Furthermore, growing up at the Virginia Beach region and having a passion for water and the environment, I have been always interested in the coastal water research which led me to pursue this project. My next step is to continue improving my understanding of the physical processes operating in coastal areas through the analysis of the outcomes of hydrodynamic numerical models along with field observations. A normal week would consist of going the Flood Hazards Research Lab to test the model and try to compare it to the field results. Most of the time I would either read more Literature on past research using this model, or I would seek guidance from the PhD’s in the lab.
The outcomes from the current project show how the local vegetation within the marsh efficiently attenuate waves from storm surges, but the highly complex interactions between vegetation and hydrodynamics require further investigation in order to fully understand these physical processes.