USGS Highlighted Projects of 2016

Last edited 09/05/2019

The Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrodynamics (SWaTH) Network

The Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrodynamics (SWaTH) Network enables deployment of data-collection sensors prior to a storm’s landfall, and measurement of hydrologic impacts of storms approaching the coastline and moving inland. It combines long-term tide gauges and deployed sensors to measure the extent and magnitude of storm tide, wave heights, and meteorological parameters. This capability allows rapid deployment of instruments along with more efficient recovery of data.

The system makes storm-tide data readily available to local emergency responders and FEMA. Additionally, the data enables the USACE, NOAA, and the scientific community to develop scientific understanding of storm surge impacts and mechanisms that cause environmental change. 

The SWATH network enhances existing USGS storm-tide monitoring capabilities with investments supporting a storm-tide operations center in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, where storm-surge vulnerability exists from hurricanes and Nor'easters. From North Carolina to Maine, the SWaTH network increases sensor deployment, sensor recovery, and data dissemination accuracy and efficiency. 

For more information, contact Robert Mason at

Guidance for Coastal Management and Planning: Building on Extensive Knowledge at Fire Island 


Fieldwork at Fire Island. Credit: USGS

The USGS has over 30 years of coastal research at Fire Island, NY, and is a member of the interagency team (DOI, USACE, State of New York) reviewing the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Plan (FIMP). The team is tasked with recommending a plan that provides long-term solutions to reduce hurricane and storm damage along South Long Island, which requires congressional authorization. 

This USGS project supplies critical knowledge and data on the volume and spatial variabilities of sand, influence of nearshore geology, and morphology on sand distribution and fills crucial knowledge and data gaps required to develop models that predict change and vulnerability caused by to storms, climate (sea-level rise), and evaluate human activities on management-relevant time scales. 

This project is a unique opportunity to understand the centennial influence of extreme storms on offshore morphology and the resultant consequences for long-term barrier and beach evolution, vulnerability, and resilience especially as it supports management guidance for NPS, USFWS, USACE and the State of NY who manage coastal resources on Fire Island. 

For more information, contact John Haines at

Forecasting Coastal Change Hazards: A New Online Portal to Help Resource Managers 

The Coastal Change Hazards Portal. Credit: USGS
The Coastal Change Hazards Portal. Credit: USGS

The USGS developed an online Coastal Change Hazards Portal (CCHP) with tools to visualize coastal changes caused by major storms, chronic erosion, and sea-level rise for resource managers and others.

During an active storm, the CCHP provides real-time forecasts of storm impacts using wave and surge modeling with detailed coastal elevation data to predict where dune erosion, overwash or beach and dune inundation can occur for community leaders and emergency planners to identify risks. 

Coastal mapping products and impact assessments ensure near–real time information for DOI bureaus, the Natural Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), Natural and Cultural Resources response teams, and state agencies.

Recent real-time storm applications of the CCHP:

  • In 2015 and 2016, Coastal Change Hazards Portal used for tracking and predicting coastal impacts of Hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin, and Tropical Storm Colin. 
  • In 2015 and 2016, predicted coastal impacts of active severe winter storms (nor’easters). 
  • In 2015, added additional wave/weather scenarios with new module for real-time forecasts for named storms and visualizations of potential coastal change probabilities for all 50 U.S. states. 
  • In 2016, portal used for tracking and predicting coastal impacts of severe winter storms (nor'easters), and added data for Nor'easter storm scenarios.

Follow these activities via Facebook and Twitter @USGSCoastChange 
For more information, contact John Haines at

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