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Fighting coastal flooding

Prisoner illustration

Illustration by Dan Page

With sea levels rising around the globe, coastal areas are experiencing more frequent flooding and as a consequence increased damage to urban infrastructure and natural areas.

Civil engineering Assistant Professor Michelle Hummel and her research partner, Kevin Befus of the University of Wyoming, are looking to nature to find ways to help turn back the tide.

“The critical thing is to understand if nature-based approaches and their benefits are as effective as engineered approaches,” Dr. Hummel says. “We’re trying to find strategies that will mitigate coastal flooding and be sustainable in the long term as sea levels rise.”

She and Dr. Befus are identifying how natural features (e.g., sand dunes, marshes, wetlands), gray infrastructure (seawalls, levees, detention ponds), and nature-based features (man-made structures that mimic natural features) might be used alone or in combination to control local flood hazards in Santa Monica Bay and Humboldt Bay in California.

They will create an integrated modeling framework to determine how different shoreline measures affect the physical processes that control surface and groundwater flooding

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