This project is a collaboration between the Department of Civil Engineering (PI: Chang, Co-PI’s Kaihatu, Socolofsky, and Gao) and the Department of Ocean Engineering (Co-PI Figlus) and is funded through a special merit grant from the Texas General Land Office Coastal Management Program (CMP) Cycle 26.
Coastal erosion is a major threat to bay communities and ecosystems along the Texas coast. Wetlands are a primary defense against erosion and provide many beneficial uses, including water quality enhancement, ecosystem habitat, and alteration of storm surge. Wetlands on the Texas coast occur naturally, and wetland creation is a major focus of the State’s coastal protection plan. Dredge spoil from ship channel dredging is the primary source of material for created wetlands, and the economic and sustainable design and maintenance of these structures are critically important. However, the dynamics of natural and created wetlands, especially their resilience and erodibility is very complex, and depends on wave and current forcing, water levels, soil properties, and vegetation type and coverage. To predict the evolution of Texas wetlands, a multi-prong approach is taken in this project: Remote sensing data from satellite images and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems are combined with in-situ measurements of hydrodynamic and sediment parameters to develop a numerical model based on the Delft3D modeling suite to predict short- and long-term changes to entire wetland systems.