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Hydrodynamic factors profoundly impact the environment of coastal areas. Wind waves,
particularly waves associated with storms, are unpredictable and can pose dangerous
situations under which to collect scientifically empirical, comparative information.
Unfortunately, there are few simple–to–use, inexpensive tools that can provide a
quantitative value of wave energy for locations not in the open ocean. Such a tool
is needed by resource managers who need to estimate wave energy in coastal regions
or in inland waters to gauge susceptibility of developed areas. This tool is also
needed by scientists who desire a quantitative measure of wave effects to relate
to ecosystem function.
CCFHR scientists have developed an easy-to-use numerical wave exposure model (WEMo)
that uses linear wave theory to calculate actual wave height and derived wave energy
while taking into consideration wind generation and local water depth characteristics
such as shoaling and dissipation from breaking waves. WEMo also provides predictions
of seafloor sediment movement.
The model works in a simple Geographic Information System (GIS) format in association
- Forecasts (and hindcasts) quantitative and geographically accurate wave energy and
seafloor sediment movement for enclosed or semi-enclosed water bodies (e.g., estuaries
- Foundation for studying or modeling restoration success, seafloor and shoreline
erosion, and limits to habitat tolerances.
- Integrates easily with standard data formats for association with dependent factors
such as shoreline erosion, landscape patterns and faunal associations.
- Guides sample stratification by wave energy regime.
- Adaptable for use by non-specialists in hydrodynamics; designed for those with basic
knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (advanced college class, introductory
graduate level classes)
- Tunable to either chronic or extreme wind events as well as in synchrony with storm
WEMo is being applied to a number of geographic areas including Tampa Bay, FL, Chesapeake
Bay, MD & VA, Core Sound and New River, NC, and Prince William Sound, AK.
Examples of potential applications include:
- seagrass exclusion areas (i.e., areas where wave energy is too high for persistent
- the potential for restoration of seagrass;
- submersed and shoreline habitat landscape pattern;
- shoreline susceptibility to hurricanes and other extreme wind events;
- effect of shoreline structures on habitat.
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