Beach and Wave Monitoring Studies to Take Place at Santa Monica Bay and Orange County Beaches

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Coastal research along Seal Beach. Photo credit: Joe Delgado
Research will assess the effectiveness of beach preservation strategies

Researchers at the University of Southern California and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, will track the effects of wintertime storms and assess the effectiveness of coastal protection projects in two concurrent studies beginning Nov. 19.

The cooperative projects will take place at beaches within Santa Monica Bay and at Seal Beach in Orange County. Funding is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), USC Sea Grant, California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the California State Coastal Conservancy. Initial projects will run through March 2015, enabling researchers to observe beach dynamics through an entire storm season. The researchers will measure waves, tides, water levels, and the evolution of sand levels, said project principal investigator Timu Gallien, a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps.

Coastal management agencies frequently create sand berms and other protective structures at Seal Beach in response to winter storm surges, which can significantly enhance the encroachment of ocean waves onto land, especially when storms coincide with high-tide events.

“Seal Beach is a unique, highly managed beach. The observations we gather this winter will fundamentally advance our understanding of the beach-berm system and help optimize future designs,” said Gallien.

Researchers will employ a variety of research tools, including Jet Skis and all-terrain vehicles equipped with GPS that can make precise measurements of sand elevation. The researchers will also conduct walking surveys using dollies and devices resembling unicycles called MoBERMs (Mobile Beach Erosion Monitoring). These devices are also fitted with GPS units.  USC Sea Grant is funding the second study specifically utilizing the MoBERM tool, commencing in February 2015 and running through January 2016.

Gallien said that in addition to improving berm design, the results of the study will improve site-specific coastal flood forecasting.

Costas Synolakis, Professor at USC Viterbi School of Engineering, will lead the study along Santa Monica Bay beaches.

  • For more information contact: Phyllis Grifman, Associate Director, 213-740-1963
  • USC Sea Grant
  • 3454 Trousdale Pkwy, CAS 200
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0373
  • (213) 740 - 1961