Coastal Engineering


Barrier island are dynamic systems that present challenges to the residents who live on them. This aerial image is of the village of Salvo viewed from the south.

Coastal Engineering Research Program

The Coastal Engineering program at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute is focused on investigating  coastal processes that potentially have a significant effect on residents of Northeastern North Carolina. The barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks are both dynamic and complex systems which can be greatly affected by storm events and erosion. As our natural environment continues to change, new challenges arise for existing and future infrastructure along the economically important and developing coastline.

The coastal engineering program studies both human-induced and natural changes to coastal systems by investigating the complex interactions between land and ocean processes.  Applied research on these important help policy and decision makers gain a clear understanding of what is happening to our dynamic coastal environment, and support their decision basis with meaningful engineering and science.

Research Focus: North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Research Program

Oregon InletOcean waves, tides and currents offer significant potential for electrical power generation.   The development of ocean energy technology is a critical step in the expansion of our nation’s energy portfolio. The UNC Coastal Studies Institute, along with the Colleges of Engineering at North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, UNC Charlotte amd East Carolina University are leading a research program designed to bring together the coastal, electrical and industrial engineering needed for the research and development of technologies to harness this form of energy and develop a strategy for future integration into the energy needs for the state of North Carolina.   MORE INFORMATION

Latest News
  • UNC CSI and Partners Release Satellite Tagged Sea Turtles to Track Dispersal and Habitat Use

    Researchers at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released juvenile and adult sea turtles into the Gulf Stream in partnership with the North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island and the University of Central Florida (UCF). The project, led by Drs. Lindsay Dubbs (UNC CSI) and Larisa …Read More

  • Continental Shelf – Deep Ocean Exchange: The Hatteras Story

    By Glen Gawarkiewicz Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution One of the main science goals for PEACH is to understand how waters from the shallow continental shelf intermingle with the waters of the deep ocean.  The Cape Hatteras region is particularly complicated because there is southward flow that comes down from New Jersey and Maryland and northward flow that …Read More

  • PEACH Project Numerical Modeling: Filling in the Gaps

    In addition to data collection from ocean observing instrumentation, numerical modeling is an important tool used by project oceanographers to better understand shelf water exchange into the deep ocean.  Throughout the PEACH research cruise, NCSU Ocean Observing and Modeling group’s (OOMG) Joe Zambon has been providing data to PIs and Chief Scientist Magdalena Andres for cruise planning. Several study sites were pre-determined …Read More

  • An Undergraduate’s Perspective on the PEACH Research Cruise

    By Lauren Ball – Senior, NC State University As an senior at NC State University in Biological Oceanography, I only required one class to graduate in May.  At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Joe Zambon and Dr. Ruoying He brought up an opportunity in our class for undergraduates to participate in two research cruises.  …Read More

  • CTD: The Workhorse of Oceanography

    For an oceanographer, understanding the physical properties of sea water, including salinity and temperature, and depth are parameters that are critical for studying ocean processes.  Luckily, oceanographers have an oceanographic instrument that does that very thing, and it’s called a CTD.  A CTD is an acronym for sensor that measures conductivity (which can be used to …Read More