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Superstorm Sandy Rapid Response Mission: Field Blog

Superstorm Sandy In The Field: A Rapid Response Mission

January 23, 2013 - Beach Survey

Photo of the Prichard next to the Sea Wolf.

The past few days have been so busy! We've been transitioning from the Sea Wolf (~80 feet) to the Prichard (~28 feet) for mapping in the bays. The small boat has a completely different setup. We have a small CHIRP that is attached to the side of the boat via a mechanism that Steffen came up with. All the cables run into the tiny cabin and plug into laptops, where we see real time data, just like with the Mama CHIRP from the Sea Wolf. The first attempt at testing the equipment didn't work so well. Luckily, Steffen not only fixed the problem, but was able to explain it to me in terms that I understood and can therefore explain to you. For some reason, the echo sounder wasn't "talking to" the laptop. Sometimes, just turning it off and on again allows the laptop to "see" the echo sounder, so Steffen tried that. When that didn't work, he changed out the laptop and several cables, which fixed the problem. Roger was snuggled in to the small space with his multi beam equipment, which was the same setup used on the Sea Wolf, except only the left side beams were working. Not a big deal, just need to drive the boat in a slightly different way to capture all of the seafloor.

Photo of John next to a pier.

So off we went to collect data! Same methodology as offshore, going in lines back and forth, creating a map of the seafloor with the multi beam and multiple cross-sections of the subsurface with the CHIRP. With all of those cross-sections, we can make maps of the subsurface and determine layer thickness variation as a function of proximity to the shoreface (among other things), grain size variability, and see where the sand went that Sandy took off of the beaches. I'll go into this more in the next blog, but there's something else I want to put out there.

Over the weekend we couldn't survey because the multi beam had to be taken off the Sea Wolf and put onto the Prichard, which is a bit of a lengthy process. So we went around to the local beaches to see for ourselves the damage that Sandy caused. Homes were ruined. There were broken glass and trash everywhere. Photo of sand-moving equipment. On one beach by the Rockaways, John found a rusty nail and I found a part of what appeared to be a front door. People are piling sand, sieving it, and transporting it down the beach. Long Beach alone is costing 3 million (federal) dollars to restore. Mother Nature changed the beach, and people are doing their best to try to change it back to what they deem "correct" or "convenient." Photo of piles of sand lining the beach. I'm not going to take a stand on this issue in this blog, but it is something that we as a nation should be talking about. Should tax money be used to restore and preserve land where people have built homes and livelihoods and community over generations? Or at some point, should we say no, move somewhere that won't be destroyed every 3-5 years? Should people in Kansas care about beach restoration? But then what about other natural disasters, such as tornados (which Kansas does care about) or earthquakes (watch out California, a big one is coming!)? This is not an issue that is going away - it's getting more important. Americans need to figure out how we, as a collection of communities with different but similar needs, want to deal with it.

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