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

Research Positions

Currently seeking multiple graduate students to fill positions at the MS, PhD, and Postdoc levels. Research topics include: living shorelines, beach and tidal inlet dynamics, barrier island response to extreme events, groundwater impacts to coastal lagoons, and infrastructure resilience. Research assistantships are available. Click here for more information.

Current Research Assistants

PhD Students
Garland Pennison


MS Students
Kelsey Carpenter
Sean McQuagge
Elizabeth Winter
Jackie Wittmann


Undergraduate Students
Ian Cox

Former Students

MSCE Students
Patrick Hautau (2018)
Marshall Hayden (2018)
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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Mobile Bay

Fig07 for web site

Our manuscript entitled “Spatial Variability of Hydrodynamic Timescales in a Broad and Shallow Estuary: Mobile Bay, Alabama” has been published by the Journal of Coastal Research. The manuscript is currently available online as a pre-print. The final version with color will be available in the coming months. Please {click on this link} for access to the manuscript.

The results presented in this new manuscript by Webb and Marr (2016) were initially developed as part of Chris Marr’s thesis research back in 2013. This new manuscript presents a much more narrow focus of his work and some new analyses as well. For more information about this work please review the {thesis} by Marr and/or this previous {blog post}.



NCA 2014 home page link


Some of our (me and Dr. Scott Douglass, PhD, PE, DCE) work is featured in the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which was recently released through the US Global Change Research Program web site. Click on the image at right to be directed to the interactive report web site. Our contributions are incorporated into Sectors / Transportation.


Since 2010 we have been assisting the US Department of Transportation and ICF International in the Gulf Coast 2 Study focused on the Mobile (AL) area. Our portion of the project was to simulate the effects of climate change on storm surge and waves in Alabama’s coastal counties using advanced hydrodynamic models. These results were used to perform exposure and sensitivity assessments in order to evaluate the vulnerability of transportation systems to storm surge and waves on higher future sea levels. A small portion of this work was incorporated into Sectors / Transportation report of the 2014 NCA. The work has also been specifically referenced in cabinet-level and presidential addresses over the past two years, specifically in response to the damage that Hurricane Sandy caused in New York and New Jersey back in 2012.


In light of the significant advances made toward performing exposure and vulnerability assessments during the Gulf Coast 2 Study, FHWA has been supporting the development of a new Hydraulic Engineering Circular (HEC) focused on assessing extreme events. The new manual will serve as a second volume to HEC 25 – Highways in the Coastal Environment. More information can be found on the FHWA climate adaptation web site. I am a co-author of this new manual, along with Dr. Douglass and Mr. Roger Kilgore. The new HEC 25 Volume 2 should be released by FHWA some time in 2014.



the crew at 5 rivers dock


The South Alabama Jag Ski was recently used to map bathymetry and velocity at selected locations in northern Mobile Bay as part of a hydrodynamic model (ADCIRC) study of the area. Bathymetric data were collected in order to update the ADCIRC model mesh and underway velocity profiling was performed for eventual model-data comparison of velocity/discharge and water levels. Areas sampled include:

  • I-10 Cut west of Choccolatta Bay
  • Existing box culverts east of the I-10 / Causeway interchange
  • Pass Picada
  • Apalachee River
  • Sardine Pass
  • Duck Skiff Pass / Justins Bay
  • Blakeley River


Bret installing tide gage under pier


Three tide gauges were recently installed (and recovered) in the northern portion of the Mobile Bay estuary as part of a hydrodynamic model study of the area. The HOBO water level data loggers were installed at Lap’s Grocery and Grill in Choccolatta Bay, at Meaher State Park in Ducker Bay, and in Sardine Pass at the 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center. The gauges were placed in protective PVC housings and secured to existing pilings using stainless steel straps. The gauge elevations were surveyed into NAVD88 using an RTK GPS in the field.



The Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation held their 22nd biennial conference in sunny San Diego, CA back in November 2013. The theme of the conference, “Toward Resilient Coasts and Estuaries, Science for Sustainable Solutions,” was evident throughout the event. There were a number of excellent sessions and presentations during the conference, as well as some good side conversations!


I gave two presentations at last year’s CERF meeting: one on living shorelines and another on work that Chris Marr completed for his MSCE thesis in 2013. The citations and abstracts are linked below. Please contact me if you are interested in either (or both) presentations.






  • Marr, C. D., Webb, B. M. 2013. Hydrodynamic modeling of turnover times in Mobile Bay, Alabama and their sensitivity to tides, fluvial discharge, and meteorological forcing. Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, November 3 – 7, San Diego, CA.