April 2022 – Field Testing at the USACE Field Research Facility in the Outer Banks, North Carolina

In preparation for land-based sensor deployments during the 2022 Hurricane season, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted field tests at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Field Research Facility (FRF) in Duck, North Carolina in late March 2022. This included:

  • Testing wave and water level instruments for accuracy
  • Testing mounting hardware and techniques
  • Testing deployment workflow and logistics

The USACE FRF research pier was an ideal structure to test the deployment of a cross-shore transect of structure-mounted sensors to measure water levels and waves, as it extends well offshore beyond the typical surf zone extent, and it parallels a cross-shore transect of bottom-mounted oceanographic sensors that can be used for data validation. 

At the end of the pier, a contactless, narrow beam Geolux water level radar sensor was deployed to measure the water level surface and estimate wave parameters; this sensor will be used to collect novel storm measurements offshore of the beach.

At the shoreline, a compact, in-situ RBR solo D|wave16 depth logger was deployed near the sand bed within a protective housing to measure water levels; different hardware brackets were tested on various pier piling types/sizes to secure the sensor housings to withstand storm forces.

These field tests provided a good opportunity to prepare for rapid deployments of cross-shore water level and wave sensor transects at any pier infrastructure along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines ahead of extreme storms. The field team would like to thank Pat Dickhudt and others at the USACE FRF for their assistance.

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View of the research pier at the USACE FRF in Duck, NC, showing how a cross-shore transect of sensors can be deployed to measure the evolution of waves and water levels during a storm.

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A Geolux oceanographic radar attached to the pier railing, housed with a data logger and battery (inset), used to measure water levels and waves in the nearshore. 

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An RBR solo D|wave16 pressure sensor (left) deployed in sensor housings that can be attached to any type of pier piling, as shown by the yellow arrows (right). 

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