Related Research Areas
Water & Energy Cycles

The storm surge of Hurricane Katrina (2005) is unprecedented in the U.S. for its elevation, area coverage, and levee breaches in New Orleans. Some have postulated that the loss of the state’s wetland “buffer” due to erosion enhanced the surge. Wave setup contributions to the surge may also be augmented due to wetland loss. Wetlands attenuate wave energy, particularly the longer period energy that contributes the most to run-up and wave overtopping on levees. This proposal addresses the priority issue of wetland and coastal conservation restoration. Mississippi State University (MSU) will be the lead institution with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center as a partner. The research focuses on Action Item R-2 from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Governor’s Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts which seeks to “Increase the safety of Gulf communities by better understanding the risks of localized sea level wise, storm surge, and subsidence.” This will be accomplished by analyzing the attenuation of storm surge events in the Louisiana wetlands using storm surge datasets from the USGS, FEMA, and NASA. A Hurricane Rita USGS monitoring network dataset, consisting of 47 sites with measurements every 30 s, will be examined. Surge attenuation as a function of distance inland will be analyzed, followed by linear correlations versus vegetation type, density, and height for several different classification schemes. Multivariate relationships will also be examined using stepwise multiple regression and parallel coordinate graphical techniques. The damping of Rita’s waves inland will be quantified through harmonic series analysis, wavelet analysis, and a low-pass filter. Associations to wave period will also be sought. Relationships to FEMA’s high water marks outside buildings (surrogates for wave data) will also be explored. Qualitative analyses will be performed on the impact of topographical forcing influences, such as ridges, levees, tree lines, etc. Surge attenuation analysis will also be conducted from USGS tide gauge data and high water marks for Hurricanes Georges, Isidore, Lili, and Gustav. This analysis will include exploring a variety of wetland classification datasets from the National Wetland Inventory, the Wetland Research Technology Center, the National Wetland Research Center, and satellite products from Landsat, Spot, AVHRR, Aqua, and Terra. Basic validation against SLOSH and ADCIRC simulations will be performed to assess how well these simulations mimic wetland interaction. NASA’s Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) taken during Georges’ Louisiana landfall also provides a unique opportunity to examine these issues, and to complement the tide gauge data. This high-resolution radiometer data will be examined in the Delacroix and Hopedale marshes. It can address questions regarding surge distribution near the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Bayou Loutre Ridge, the St. Bernard Parish levee systems, and the Intracoastal Waterway. Correlations of the radiometer brightness temperatures to topography elevation and tide gauge data will be performed. This will yield a prototype multiple regression model that can produce spatial surge values from AMPR data during wetland inundations events.

Project PI: Pat Fitzpatrick/Mississippi State University

BLDG 1103 Room 108 SSC, MS 39529

Phone: (228) 688-1157

Fax:(985) 788-9486



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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011


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