Grant helps coastal communities prepare for rising sea levels

New London

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — When storms hit they can do a lot of damage and researchers at UConn’s Avery Point say the damage is greater with rising sea levels.

They have received a grant given out by NOAA the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which is aimed at helping coastal communities be better prepared.

Kay Howard-Strobel is a researcher with CIRCA the Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation at Avery Point.

She shows News 8 some of the equipment they use to collect data along the shoreline.

“These will be entirely submerged,” says Howard-Strobel. “This is a Doppler profiler. It emits pings.”

CIRCA received the $109,000 grant to conduct studies on rising tides.

“A storm event comes through we’ll get waves, we’ll get the increase in currents, we’ll get the increase in surface elevation, changes in temperature, and salinity,” explains Howard-Strobel.

The information collected by the instruments is sent to the group’s high capacity servers.

“We’re using that data to validate our model results,” says researcher Todd Fake.

Those models will help them predict how bad storms will be and how frequent they will occur.

“Sea level rise as an impact of climate change and we expect to have increasing sea level rise in the future will make those storms worse because the water level’s gonna be higher,” says Rebecca French who works with CIRCA.

Her part of this grant is to look at green infrastructure and living shorelines which can help prevent erosion once vulnerable areas are identified. She says dunes like you see at Mitchell College’s beach and plantings help stop erosion.

“The root systems naturally stabilize the shore,” says French.

Marshes can also slow down incoming water. Options other than sea walls which will be presented along with shoreline maps to coastal communities.

The group’s mission with this grant “Is to help them understand what they’re options are,” says French.

“One of the reasons the researchers like natural barriers built where they can be is because they allow the ecosystem to also survive.

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