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A Gulf Coast Monitoring and Hazards Decision Support Tool -Enhancements Using NASA Earth Science Products, Data and Models

Project Summary
The northern Gulf of Mexico coastal region comprising of coastal Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are low-lying and often prone to flooding. This deltaic region influenced by the Mississippi River system has also undergone land-loss (e.g., due to subsidence) and will potentially experience enhanced effects of sea level rise associated with global climate change. In recent years this region has also been most impacted by natural disasters such as hurricanes. In spite of this vulnerability, the region until recently did not have any wave and storm surge monitoring capability. The operation of nearshore and offshore platform based coastal decision system such as WAVCIS (Wave-Current-Information System) by the Coastal Studies Institute at Louisiana State University (LSU) with the capability for near real-time monitoring of oceanographic (sea level, waves, currents) and meteorological parameters(winds) off the Louisiana and Mississippi coast has proven to be of importance to Federal (e.g., Mineral Management Services - MMS) and State (e.g., Louisiana Department of Natural Resources - LDNR) agencies. Near real-time nearshore and offshore information on storm surge, sea level and currents from WAVCIS platforms provide advanced decision support related to sea level and storm surge for parts of the Louisiana and Mississippi coast. Other coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are also under increasing threat of sea level rise associated with subsidence, climate change, and storms. There is thus a clear need to extend the decision making to other parts of the northern Gulf region influenced by the Mississippi River (e.g., parts of Texas coast) and enhance its information content to include monitoring near-shore water quality (e.g., salinity, temperature, ocean color). This project plans to enhance the current WAVCIS DST with NASA satellite products and three-dimensional coastal circulation models. Satellite products and data that are planned to be integrated into the WAVCIS system includes wind data from SeaWinds/QuikSCAT, sea surface height (SSH) from JASON,  and sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean color (e.g., 250-m high resolution true color imagery) from MODIS satellite sensor. This enhanced WAVCIS DST will support users such as MMS and LDNR. A high resolution (2 km) three-dimensional coastal circulation model with forecast outputs of sea level, currents, temperature and salinity will be developed for coastal Louisiana, Mississippi and parts of Texas. It is planned to perform validation and verification studies of model outputs including comparing forecasted and measured parameters such as sea level and SST. Benchmarking will test the WAVCIS DST with and without NASA satellite products/data and model outputs.  This project will demonstrate benefits of Earth Science results in improved decision support for Coastal Management.

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