UNCW assistant professor gets $265K grant from Dept. of Defense to study barrier islands

UNCW professor receives grant to study erosion along NC coast

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Joseph Long, an assistant professor of oceanography at UNCW, has received a $265,594 grant from the Department of Defense to study erosion and recovery cycles of barrier islands, the university announced on Tuesday.

Andrea Hawkes, a professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, will serve as co-principal investigator on the project titled “Beach Berms: The Missing Link to Predicting Decadal-scale Barrier Island Trajectories and Tipping Points?”

The study will focus on Masonoboro Island at first, specifically “the dramatic and abrupt changes that occur during storms and the gradual building of the beach that happens between storms.”

Long says the ultimate goal is to understand how these events cause visible changes in barrier islands over the course of a decade.

“We’ll be using what we learn from our ongoing observations to build a model to predict these changes. Models that can predict how barrier islands will change over the next 10 years will provide science-based information that coastal managers need to make critical decisions,” he stated in a news release from UNCW announcing the grant.

In the third year of the study, the research team plans to apply their findings and tools to other barrier islands, including Dauphin Island, Alabama. The project includes funding for graduate and undergraduate students to collect and analyze data and attend scientific conferences.

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