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State Highway Shoreline Protection Program

Drs. Oceana Francis, Horst Brandes and David Ma obtained a three year (2017-2019) project from the Hawaii Department of Transportation (about $700,000) to identify threats to the integrity of State roads posed by rising sea levels and coastal erosion. The research is aimed at identifying and ranking road sections according to their vulnerability to rising water levels from the effects of climate change. A preliminary assessment has already been completed for Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii, yielding recommendations on the most critical sections that require immediate remediation and proposed mitigation solutions.

More detailed studies are now underway combining scientifically rigorous sea level predictions that take into account potential storm surges and tidal variations, with accurate and detailed topographic road and coastal elevation surveys. A methodology and specific criteria are being developed to identify and prioritize sites for medium and long-term mitigation efforts. The criteria will consider coastal hazards and processes, climate change and sea level rise, coastal erosion rates, risk, connectivity, affected population, current and project land use, socio-economic impacts, benefit-cost, lifecycle, environment, cost of mitigation, risk assessment and other factors deemed important.
The benefit of this study is that it will provide specific direction to the HDOT in its effort to optimize the use of limited funds for road infrastructure improvement and maintenance.

Tsunami-Driven Debris Damming Loads on Structures

Dr. Hyoungsu Park awarded a four-year (2022-2026) project from National Science Foundation (NSF) about $350,000 to identify the mechanism, loadings, and uncertainties on Tsunami-driven debris damming on structures. This award will focus on revealing how the accumulation of debris in front of buildings, i.e., debris damming, during tsunami events, leads to an increase in the forces imposed by tsunami flow on structures in the built environment. To better understand the magnitude of increase in tsunami forces due to damming, the mechanisms that lead to increased forces, and the variability in damming loads, experiments will be conducted on elevated buildings in the large wave flume at the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure facility in Oregon State University.






A better understanding of tsunami-driven debris damming loads can be used to (1) improve existing design guidelines such as ASCE/SEI7-16/22 to design more robust buildings, (2) identify factors that affect debris damming to determine measures that help reduce or mitigate the damming loads, and (3) improve tsunami vulnerability assessment of existing buildings for assessing risk and resilience. The project will also include outreach activities aimed to engage K-12 students in the experiments, research opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in the experiments and computer modeling, and webinars for researchers and practicing engineers to promote the adoption of the research findings.

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