NCSU-Kenan Natural Hazards Mapping Program

The NCSU-Kenan Natural Hazards Mapping Program Lab focuses on research that generates knowledge about coastal processes (including landform change), coastal hazard identification and response strategies to improve the resilience of coastal environment. The laboratory has the hardware and software support to efficiently utilize state of the art GIS-based techniques, geospatial tools and numerical models to better understand, visualize, model and develop solutions to coastal problems.  Currently, NCSU-Kenan Natural Hazards Mapping Laboratory has projects focused on the effects of extreme events, sea level rise, beach nourishment, and beach and dune erosion on coastal landforms.

Current Research Projects

In addition to multiple ongoing student research projects, the following funded projects are now underway.

Shoreline Monitoring at Oregon Inlet
Project sponsor: NC DOT

The purpose of this ongoing project (1989 to present) is to monitor and evaluate the response of a six mile stretch of shoreline just south of the terminal groin constructed to protect the bridge at the north end of Pea Island.  The purpose of phase one was to establish the ‘historical erosion rates’ for the study area since the change in dredging operations in the inlet in 1984 and before the March 1989 storm.  The continuing phases of the project consist of determining position of the shoreline from air photography every two months and evaluating the response of the shoreline in the context of the historical erosion rates.

Previous Research Projects

NCSU Engineering to Enhance the Resilience of the Built and Natural Environments
Project Sponsor: Department of Homeland Security

Engineering choices associated with evolving landforms (e.g., the natural environment) and critical civil infrastructure (CCI) systems (i.e., the built environment) play a key role in supporting the DHS mission to protect and improve disaster preparedness in coastal regions vulnerable to natural disasters. CCI systems should be designed to proactively address ways to minimize exposure of communities, to protect lifelines necessary during and after disaster events, and to enable rapid response and recovery. Thus, a major goal of this focus area is to investigate innovative and proactive approaches to plan, design and construct CCI components to provide the necessary services needed to increase the disaster preparedness and resilience of the integrated CCI system, as well as to protect the natural environment. To achieve this goal, five highly interrelated research projects are being proposed.  Each project has a project leader and anticipated partners; however, the projects are proposed as complementary pieces contributing products to be used to meet the overarching objective to enhance the resilience of the built and natural environment, a single objective.

Multi-temporal, three dimensional hazard identification and prediction
Project Sponsor: NC Sea Grant

Quantifying and understanding geomorphologic change in the coastal environment has long presented challenges to the coastal engineer, scientist and manager.  However, recent advances in mapping technologies (e.g., LIDAR, RTK-GPS), provide three dimensional (3D), spatial-temporal data of coastal areas with unprecedented detail and accuracy.  3D Analysis of such data using advanced GIS tools can provide new insights into coastal erosion processes and improve erosion hazard prediction by providing more detailed and accurate data for model calibration.  Short term functioning of coastal management projects (nourishment, sand dunes stabilization etc.) can be assessed at much larger scale and with greater detail than it was possible with traditional approaches.  At present, the rich temporal lidar data set for the coast of NC provides an opportunity to quantify decadal change at scales previously unavailable.  Full 3D studies can provide necessary quantification not only of standard hazard predictions such as erosion rates but also of geomorphic and volumetric change illuminating both short and long term processes.  While the most recent update of long-term annual average erosion rates (Overton and Fisher, 2003) indicates that one third of the State’s 300 miles of shoreline is eroding at 2ft/yr or greater, currently there are no estimates of the loss of volume (or gain) of this systems.  Increases in storm activity and projected sea level rise scenarios suggest the importance of adding the three dimensional component to managing coastal hazard identification and prediction.

DHS HSSTEM Career Development Grant, 9/09-9/12 Engineering for Resilient Civil Infrastructure Systems: A Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Project Sponsor: Department of Homeland Security

The purpose of this proposal is to establish a graduate research fellowship program to train students to be future leaders in the area of engineering of resilient civil infrastructure systems for coastal regions considering natural hazards. This program will be conducted in coordination with the ongoing DHS Center of Excellence on Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management.

Courses in the NCSU-Kenan Natural Hazards Mapping Program


CE 487/596: Introduction to Coastal and Ocean Engineering


CE 583: Engineering Aspects Of Coastal Processes

Student Field Trip to USACE Field Research Facility, F2010

Ce 583 Field Trip

CE 596: Coastal Structures

CE 5XX: Coastal Modeling