CHERL advances coastal research with advanced technology |
Sea level rise and land subsidence have made coastal areas around the world increasingly vulnerable to flooding, with increasing frequency and intensity of storms well documented.
Globally, about three billion people – almost half of the earth’s population – live within 200 kilometers of a coastline, and 20% of them reside in areas less than 10 meters above sea level. above sea level. In the United States, more than half of the population lives in coastal counties.
Locally, the devastation caused by Super Hurricane Sandy in 2012 literally brought the climate crisis to the doorsteps of many Long Islanders.
But in the basement of Stony Brook University’s heavy engineering building, Ali Farhadzadeh, assistant professor at Department of Civil Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science, conducts research in the innovative field Coastal and Hydraulic Engineering Research Laboratory (CHERL) designed to explore these questions and seek possible solutions.
“In this lab, we study a variety of research topics at the interface of ocean and land that have to do with the interactions of waves and storm surges with the built or natural environments around communities,” Farhadzadeh said.
The lab examines erosion and scour around beaches and buildings. An example would be cliff erosion, which Farhadzadeh says is one of Long Island’s problems on the north and south shores. “We are also exploring the possibility of nature-based or more environmentally friendly solutions for coastal mitigation.”
The facility was commissioned in the spring of 2017 and has been operating since then, conducting various coastal research on the interaction of waves with coastlines, and in particular with structures subjected to extreme weather conditions.
“We need to anticipate both the direct and indirect physical effects of future sea level changes and storm intensification when considering the engineering and design of coastal projects,” Farhadzadeh said. “Better preparedness against future extreme floods requires a deeper understanding of coastal phenomena, which leads to new design procedures and the construction of coastal infrastructure.”
The lab has state-of-the-art equipment, highlighted by an 85-foot combined wave and bi-directional current channel. The massive reservoir is capable of generating combined random waves and reversible currents to simulate a variety of real-world phenomena, including those involving sediment transport. The channel can also be used for marine renewable energy projects, as well as for testing and calibrating energy harvesting devices. There is also a smaller scale educational channel which shows the processes of erosion and sediment movement.
The wave generator and pump can be controlled from a computer in the lab equipped with software capable of producing sine waves and multispectral seas, as well as bi-directional currents.
The end result is a lab experience that allows students to witness first-hand the science behind a critical environmental challenge.
“I’ve always been interested in physics and the environment, and I thought coastal engineering was a great mix of the two,” said civil engineering major Ephraim Bryski ’22, who joined CHERL during his first year. “Once I started testing, it was really nice to be able to recreate what I see on shore in a controlled setting. As it’s a small lab, I can work closely with the professor and graduate students and see all parts of the experiments come together, from the initial idea to writing a report analyzing our results.”
Farhadzadeh’s current research explores the impact of oyster reefs on reducing wave energy and shoreline attenuation, as well as reducing or managing erosion. He said there is an increased interest in using more environmentally friendly solutions for coastal protection, as opposed to a more conventional approach which requires the use of hard engineering solutions for coastal protection. ribs.
This particular project attempts to optimize artificial oyster reefs to dissipate and reduce more energy when a wave passes over the reef. As a result, there will be less erosion if it is a building and less force on the building behind.
“If we can achieve this, oyster reefs can be engineered for a more energetic wave environment,” Farhadzadeh said. “And that can make these types of coastal protections work for many coastal areas across the country that suffer from erosion and flooding issues.”
One of the driving forces behind the establishment of the lab was the aftermath and aftermath of Super Hurricane Sandy and similar weather events which left a devastating impact across the country and facilitated a sense of urgency regarding research in coastal engineering.
“The fact that more than 50% of the US population lives near the coastline means there is a great need for research and investment in the field of coastal engineering,” Farhadzadeh said. “We need to be better prepared for the future, and we expect more intense storms and weather-related anomalies. That is why we are investing a lot of time and effort in this. It is essential that we develop the next generation of coastal engineers, and we are doing everything we can to make it happen.
— Robert Emproto