Data Collection of Nearshore Wave Dynamics Along West Maui Shoreline


Data Collection of Nearshore Wave Dynamics Along West Maui Shoreline

A team of researchers from PacIOOS and the Department of Oceanography at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawaiʻi, deployed an array of 24 instruments along the West Maui shoreline. Data from pressure sensors, current and wave meters will provide valuable insights into wave dynamics and help to detect the “hidden” infragravity motions along this stretch of coastline. West Maui is exposed to both north and south swells and the offshore and nearshore bathymetry causes high variability of impact along the shoreline due to the refraction of wave energy. Measurements will be obtained for a 6-month winter and a 6-month summer period to capture seasonal differences.

Scientific Divers

University of Hawaiʻi scientific divers deploy a pressure sensor on the sandy ocean floor. Credit: Assaf Azouri.

The data collection will serve as valuable input and validation for the Wave Run-up Forecast that is currently in development for West Maui. Through NOAA’s Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program, PacIOOS received $500K to develop a high-resolution, real-time wave run-up forecast and notification system for West Maui’s coastline to provide state and county agencies, property owners, and other stakeholders with a 6-day “heads-up” whether wave run-up is expected. PacIOOS will also model a suite of inundation planning scenarios that take rising sea levels and increasing wave energies into account.

A combination of high water levels and large wave swells can result in significant coastal erosion, damage to infrastructure and properties, and land-based sedimentation that impairs coastal water quality. Site-specific, short- and long-term forecasts, will strengthen West Maui’s coastal community and economy by enhancing preparedness and response operations, and by informing future land use planning.

The 3-year project has started in October 2017 and modeling efforts are well underway. The project team includes the modeling group under the supervision of Professor Douglas Luther from the Department of Oceanography at SOEST , University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program, State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, and County of Maui.

Funding for the extensive data collection was provided by the University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program, the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), and PacIOOS. We are also very grateful and would like to thank local partners and individuals who have supported our mission, including Ultimate Whale Watch (Peter Colombo, Lee James, Amy Venema and the team), Sands of Kahana (Wayne Cober), University of Hawai‘i Maui College (Donna Brown), and the Maui Dream Dive Company.

Pressure Gauge

Close-up of a pressure sensor deployed in the waters off West Maui. Credit: Assaf Azouri.

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Did you know?

PacIOOS is the first regional association that was certified as a Regional Information Coordination Entity (RICE) by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Certification provides NOAA and its interagency partners a means to verify that a regional association’s organizational and operational practices, including data management, meet recognized and established standards set by NOAA.