COLUMBUS, Ohio - By the time vacationers first dip their toes in beach sand next summer, scientists may have a new weapon in the battle to protect U.S. coastlines from erosion.
Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a new way to map the ocean currents that erode beaches, cost coastal towns millions of dollars in annual property losses, and threaten a tourist industry worth billions.
With this new method, one video camera with special software does the same work as scientists' only current alternative: an expensive grid of electronic sensors planted beneath the waves.
The new software uses foam from breaking waves to track the complex flow of water near the shore, explained Thomas Lippmann, research scientist in Ohio State's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Byrd Polar Research Center.
At a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Lippmann and his colleagues reported that their video-derived data compared favorably to data obtained by the in-water instrumentation.
"If we could better measure and predict water circulation
patterns, we could learn more about erosion, as well as
other near-shore phenomena such as rip currents and
Contact: Thomas Lippmann
Ohio State University