As South Louisiana and other coastal regions gear up for what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts will be an above-normal 2022 hurricane season, University of New Orleans student Md Mohiuddin Sakib will spend the summer researching ways to combat the environmental impact of such storms.
Sakib, a doctoral student in earth and environmental sciences, has been awarded a 10-week paid internship at the Water Institute of the Gulf within the Coastal and Deltaic Systems Modeling Department.
Sakib’s research focuses on numerical process-based models. Numerical modeling enables researchers to simulate large-scale experiments that would be too costly or impossible to perform on a real coastal area.
The models also enable the simulation of coastal processes over very long periods. The numerical models can simulate a process that takes centuries in reality, but can be done in a matter of minutes in a computer model, Sakib said.
“The internship is specialized in coastal and deltaic systems modeling, specifically looking at coastal sediment (sand, mud) transport pathways and trends during hurricane and storm events by using computer models,” Sakib said.
This will be Sakib’s third research internship that uses physical and mathematical modeling to focus on the potential impact that storms will have on coastal areas such as the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and along the coasts of Virginia and Massachusetts, areas that are vulnerable to sea level rises and hurricanes.
Sakib said his coastal hydrodynamics and sediment transport modeling work provides baseline information to further comprehend and predict potential future scenarios for sea level rise, coastal storms, flood risk, coastal erosion and infrastructure impacts.
“This type of work is necessary for effective coastal planning to improve our capabilities to prepare for, resist and adapt to coastal hazards and increasing the resiliency of our coastal region,” Sakib said. “I am excited to provide solutions to an important national problem.”
All coastlines in the U.S. are affected by storms and other natural events that cause erosion. The combination of storm surge at high tide and the additional effects from strong waves commonly associated with land-falling tropical storms creates the most damaging conditions along the coast, said Sakib.
The extent and severity of the problem is worsening with global sea level rise, but it differs in different parts of the country, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution, Sakib said.
In the United States, coastal erosion is responsible for roughly $500 million per year in coastal property loss, including damage to structures and loss of land. To mitigate coastal erosion, the federal government spends an average of $150 million every year on beach nourishment and other shoreline erosion control measures, Sakib said.
In addition to beach erosion, more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are lost annually, the equivalent of seven football fields disappearing every hour of every day, he said.
“In the current context of coastal erosion in the U.S., my research on coastal sediment transport can be very useful for mitigating future land loss due to future sea level rise and storminess,” Sakib said.
Sakib is conducting the research with guidance from his doctoral supervisor Ioannis Georgiou, earth and environmental sciences professor at UNO.