Hurricane storm surge and wave attenuation by wetlands and coastal marshes: Towards a new paradigm for nature based coastal resilience

Friday, November 10th, 2017 at 10:00am
Johnson Center, Room A

Dr. Celso Ferreira
Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering,
George Mason University

Flooding due to extreme events is one of the most deadly and costly natural hazards around the world. The 2017 Hurricane Season demonstrated the vulnerability of the United States to extreme events, causing wide spread damage and highlighting the need for resilient coastal defenses. Building with nature has offered a paradigm shift in engineering by providing a new design philosophy where the dependence upon hard engineering structures (e.g., levees and seawalls) to provide coastal protection is giving way to hybridized solutions incorporating natural and nature-based features (NNBF) for coastal resilience. Nature-based defenses for coastal resilience are increasingly gaining popularity as an ecological engineering approach to protect coastal communities against flooding and erosion. However, there remains a considerable gap in accurately determining whether coastal communities can safely and cost-effectively rely on NNBFs for community resilience against flooding under a changing climate.

In this talk, I will present an overview of our work in quantifying the hurricane storm surge and wave attenuation capacity by marshes and wetlands. The foundation of this work is based on one of the largest field datasets in the world documenting in-situ hurricane storm surge hydrodynamics and wave interactions with natural areas such as marshes during extreme events conditions. My research team has documented more than 50 storms in the last 3 years, including major Hurricanes such as Joaquim, Matthew and Hermine. I will present a new empirical formulation for wave dampening from natural areas and the practical engineering parameters for the implementation of natural and nature-based defenses for coastal protection. I will also present a numerical framework developed to predict protective services from the NNBFs under extreme weather events and the quantification of ecosystems services for flood protection. Finally, I will discuss future impacts of coastal storm surge and marsh migration to infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay.

Biography: Dr. Celso Ferreira is an Assistant Professor in the Civil, Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering Department of George Mason University, specializing in water resources engineering. He is also an Associate Researcher at the USGS National Research Program. His current research interests are associated with water related extreme weather hazards and their impacts on civil engineering infrastructure. Dr. Celso Ferreira has authored over 20 technical publications and his research is currently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Interior (DOI), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and several private organizations. He was recently appointed a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. He has more than 10 years of experience working on consulting projects related to water resources, environmental and coastal engineering in the US and Brazil.

Stephen G. Nash
Senior Associate Dean
Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University
Nguyen Engineering Building, Room 2500
Mailstop 5C8
Fairfax, VA 22030

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