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
  • Researchers Deploy and Recover Oceanographic Equipment

    Scientists and technicians from the UNC Coastal Studies Institute recently deployed and recovered two oceanographic instruments offshore of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  The two pieces of equipment include a device used to measure currents along the edge of the Gulf Stream, and buoy, used to measure waves.  Both of these instruments are part of the …Read More

  • In Search of Sargassum and Sea Turtles

    Researchers from the UNC Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI) and National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center (NMFS SEFSC) NOAA Laboratory in Beaufort, NC embarked on a one-day cruise to the Gulf Stream offshore of Cape Hatteras, NC as part of a project to better understand the ecology of the Gulf Stream. Sargassum is …Read More

  • Marine Hydrokinetic Device Field Testing and Assessment

    Jennette’s Pier Renewable Ocean Energy Device Testing The UNC Coastal Studies Institute works closely with energy developers to assist in testing and monitoring their devices in real world ocean environments.  UNC CSI has developed two wave energy test centers at Jennette’s pier in Nags Head, a state owned pier managed by the NC Aquarium division.  In …Read More

  • Harnessing the Power of the Gulf Stream

    UNC CSI scientists are researching the Gulf Stream as a possible source of renewable energy for North Carolina.  Current research is being performed to locate the “sweet spot” for capturing the power of the Gulf Stream. The correct placement of marine hydrokinetic devices is critical for capturing Gulf Stream energy. The seafloor depth in the middle of the …Read More