Coastal Research – Teeth of a Storm

music
ambience Ocean waves, wind

Picture yourself in the thick of a storm – a classic nor’easter – nearly half a mile out on the ocean, on one of the world’s largest research piers. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“The winds are blowing about 35 to 40 knots, and the wave heights are 15 feet high now. They come about every eight seconds, and they’re relentless. The surf zone is out past the end of the pier here.”

Carl Miller is a research oceanographer at the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. For him and his colleagues the storm is a chance to study the coastline up close and personal.

“The pier deck’s 25 feet above the sea, and, as you can feel, the waves are actually causing this big pier to move around a little bit. The interesting thing about making measurements during a storm is that the waves tend to break on the sandbars, but as the sandbars move further and further offshore because the turbulence can keep it in suspension longer, the sandbars get further out. And then even the big waves break further from the beach. Well, that’s the philosophy of building beach protection. You got to understand how to do it in harmony with the way nature would do it, and that’s basically that you mimic what she would do in a natural way. But you got to have measurements to understand that, and that’s why we’re here. That’s why days like today are so interesting. We can’t make measurements today, physically, because it’s too big us to operate, but we have remote location sensors that tell us how big the waves are, how hard the wind’s blowing, and what the storm surge is. And the storm surge is important because that’s what kills. When you get the flooding, that’s what kills. And so, we document that very, very carefully.”

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Coastal Research - Teeth of a Storm

What's it like to be on the end of one of the world's largest research piers - in the midst of a Nor'easter?
Air Date:08/27/2009
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience Ocean waves, wind

Picture yourself in the thick of a storm - a classic nor'easter - nearly half a mile out on the ocean, on one of the world's largest research piers. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"The winds are blowing about 35 to 40 knots, and the wave heights are 15 feet high now. They come about every eight seconds, and they're relentless. The surf zone is out past the end of the pier here."

Carl Miller is a research oceanographer at the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility on North Carolina's Outer Banks. For him and his colleagues the storm is a chance to study the coastline up close and personal.

"The pier deck's 25 feet above the sea, and, as you can feel, the waves are actually causing this big pier to move around a little bit. The interesting thing about making measurements during a storm is that the waves tend to break on the sandbars, but as the sandbars move further and further offshore because the turbulence can keep it in suspension longer, the sandbars get further out. And then even the big waves break further from the beach. Well, that's the philosophy of building beach protection. You got to understand how to do it in harmony with the way nature would do it, and that's basically that you mimic what she would do in a natural way. But you got to have measurements to understand that, and that's why we're here. That's why days like today are so interesting. We can't make measurements today, physically, because it's too big us to operate, but we have remote location sensors that tell us how big the waves are, how hard the wind's blowing, and what the storm surge is. And the storm surge is important because that's what kills. When you get the flooding, that's what kills. And so, we document that very, very carefully."

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music