Contact

Bret M. Webb, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE
Professor
University of South Alabama
150 Jaguar Drive, SH3142
Mobile, AL 36688 USA
Phone: (251) 460-6174
Fax: (251) 461-1400
Email: bwebb@southalabama.edu

Research Positions

Currently seeking an MSCE student to perform research on groundwater impacts to coastal lagoons. A research assistantship is available. Contact me for more details.

Current Research Assistants

SE Students
Garland Pennison

 

MSCE Students
Patrick Hautau
Marshall Hayden
Jackie Wittmann

 

Undergraduate Students
Derek Kelly

Former Students

MSCE Students
Kate Haynes (2018)
Justin Lowlavar (2017)
Bryan Groza (2016)
Kari Servold (2015)
Chris Marr (2013)
Richard Allen (2013)
Miyuki Matthews (2012)

 

Post Docs
Jon Risinger
Jungwoo Lee

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I recently completed a document that introduces transportation professionals to coastal modeling. The guidance document, entitled A Primer on Modeling in the Coastal Environment, was written for the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. It is now available for distribution. You can download a copy of the manual by clicking on the cover image at right. The document abstract/summary is provided below.

 

Document Summary

This manual provides an introduction to coastal hydrodynamic modeling for transportation engineering professionals. The information presented in this manual can be applied to better understand the use of numerical models in the planning and design of coastal highways.

Here, the term “coastal highways” is meant to generally capture the roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure that is exposed to, or occasionally exposed to, tides, storm surge, waves, erosion, and sea level rise near the coast. The hydrodynamic models that serve as the focus of this manual are used to describe these processes and their impacts on coastal highways through flooding, wave damage, and scour.

The primary audience for this manual is transportation professionals ranging across the spectrum of project delivery (e.g., planners, scientists, engineers, etc.). After reading this manual the audience will understand when, why, and at what level coastal models should be used in the planning and design of coastal highways and bridges; and when to solicit the expertise of a coastal engineer. This manual provides transportation professionals with the information needed to determine scopes of work, prepare requests for professional services, communicate with consultants, and evaluate modeling approaches and results.

The manual also provides guidance on when and where hydraulic and hydrodynamic models are used, and how they are used to determine the dependence of bridge hydraulics on the riverine or coastal design flood event.

The manual also gives recommendations for the use of models in coastal vulnerability assessments.

I use SonTek’s HydroSurveyor (HS) software on our Jag Ski when collecting bathymetric data. I prefer to use this instead of their RiverSurveyor Live software because of its line planning, navigation, and absolute RTK capabilities. One of the nice things about HS–when it was released–was its ability to reference aerial imagery via online map tile servers. However, this capability disappeared in early 2017 when the MapQuest tile server ceased to exist.

Not wanting to lose the ability to plan surveys with current aerial imagery in the background, I decided to figure out how to import imagery. While this capability of HS has always existed, and while it is documented in the user manual, I never had the patience to figure it out. Until I had to! Here is a step-by-step process that I followed to make this work. Note that I will reference the GIS software “QGIS” in my steps. This stands for Quantum GIS (click here). Any GIS software could be used as a substitute, but I prefer to use QGIS because it works across all computing platforms and I commonly have to swap back and forth between a Mac and a PC.

 

  1. Download NAIP imagery from USGS National Map Viewer (click here)
  2. The image will be a JPEG2000 (jp2). Images after 2013 are projected in WGS 1984 Web Mercator Auxiliary Sphere projection (EPSG 3857), which is exactly what you need for the HS software.
  3. Open your image in QGIS, define the CRS as EPSG 3857 (WGS84 Mercator)
  4. Save your file with a new name as a rendered GTIFF using the same CRS (EPSG 3857)
  5. In QGIS, go to Raster / Projections / Extract Projection. Select your file created above (tiff) and then process.
  6. Rename the world file with extension “tfw” instead of “wld”. (Note that the remaining steps will not work unless you complete this one. The HS software requires a world file, but you don’t get one when you download the imagery from the USGS National Map Viewer.)
  7. Open HydroSurveyor, select Tasks / Import Georeferenced Image, and then select your tiff file(s).
  8. Select WGS-84 Mercator in the following window.
  9. Save the tiled data with a new name.
  10. In HydroSurveyor, click “Add Layer” and then “Browse for File” … select your tile files.
  11. Note that you may need to expand your image layer using “>>” and then select “zoom to layer” in order to see your imagery.

 

Do you have to use imagery from the USGS National Map Viewer? No, not at all. Any georeferenced aerial imagery will work so long as you can 1) reproject it to WGS84 Mercator (EPSG 3857) and 2) extract/create/obtain the image world file. That said, another good option for imagery is TerraServer, but those images can be expensive.

 

Dog RIver Park

Dog River Park: Mobile, AL

Some of the usual suspects in Alabama and Mississippi have been busy developing technical guidance on living shorelines. What’s different about these new documents is that they are aimed at property owners and contractors instead of practitioners, scientists, engineers, etc. Our goal, as a community of living shorelines practitioners, has been to push some of our knowledge down to these underserved groups in hopes that they might make use of our regional general permits for living shorelines in Alabama and Mississippi.

Well after a couple of years of hard work (and some delays), I’m happy to say that they are finally available. Please click on the links below to download the PDFs. These projects involved too many friends and agencies to list here in this post, so please be sure to review the acknowledgments in each document. However, I would like to express our collective gratitude to the primary funding agencies (NOAA and GOMA) as well as the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and the Southern Environmental Law Center for their support and hard work.

 

Living Shorelines: A Guide for Alabama Property Owners

 

Living Shorelines: A Technical Guide for Contractors in Alabama and Mississippi

 

{Edit: Fixed a problem with the links. The documents should load in the same browser window/tab now without trying to open a new one. Apologies for the troubles.}

 

Interested in living shorelines? Want to learn more? Please watch and listen to this video provided by Restore America’s Estuaries…

 

 

 

acopne-logo-b-min

 

Last week I was honored to receive my Board Certification as a Diplomate of Coastal Engineering (D.CE) from the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port and Navigation Engineers (ACOPNE). This certification demonstrates that I have specific technical expertise in civil engineering acquired through advanced education and training, as well as professional practice experience. In lieu of a specific licensing process that distinguishes specialized practitioners from general ones, this relatively new certification program (2009) plays an important role in elevating the competence of the civil engineering profession.

 

ACOPNE is one of three academies of the American Society of Civil Engineers participating in the Civil Engineering Certification process.  Board Certification through ACOPNE was established in 2009 to recognize those engineers possessing advanced knowledge, skill, and training in the fields of coastal, ocean, port and navigation engineering. The distinction of Board Certification and the credentials (diplomate status) that it provides represent one of the highest designations available to identify those civil engineers with exceptional skill and reputation.

 

Board Certification through ACOPNE requires that individuals be actively engaged in the practice of their specialized area of engineering, have obtained a baccalaureate degree in engineering, a master’s degree (or over 25 years of experience) in their area of specialization, and a professional engineering license. Click {here} to learn more about the ASCE Civil Engineering Certification academies and their requirements.