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
Kate Haynes
Jackie Wittmann

 

Undergraduate Students
Derek Kelly

Former Students

MSCE Students
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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FHWA GI Pilot title slide... click for animation

We are wrapping up a one-year collaborative project between USA, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), and the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (USDOT FHWA).  This was one of five pilot projects funded by USDOT FHWA to evaluate the use of green infrastructure for improving the resilience of coastal transportation systems. The pilot projects are an initial step in a more comprehensive effort by USDOT FHWA to develop an implementation guide for nature-based solutions that improve resilience. More information about that project is found at the following link {click here}.

 

Our pilot project with MDOT was focused on improving the resilience of a coastal bridge in Mississippi to hurricane hazards and future sea level rise. More specifically, our green infrastructure approach was designed to address the vulnerability of bridge approaches and low-elevation bridge spans. The causes of damage to the bridge during Katrina were determined through the use of hydrodynamic models. A hindcast simulation of Katrina was performed using the coupled ADCIRC+SWAN models. Those results were extracted and used to force a high-resolution, two-dimensional simulation using the XBeach model. An animation of some of those results is provided below.

 

To that end, a pair of vegetated berms were designed in order to mitigate storm damage now and in the future during extreme events.

 

An overview of the entire pilot project is available in a recorded webinar at the following link {click here for webinar}. Ours is the second presentation in the webinar recording (at about the 25-minute mark). Webinar recordings for all five pilot projects, as well as other presentations in an ongoing USDOT FHWA resilience series, can be found at the following link {click here for all webinars}. A brief animation of our presentation slides is available by clicking on the title slide image in this post.

 

Katrina Hindcast using XBeach, forced with ADCIRC+SWAN output…

XBeach animation

Hindcast of Katrina using XBeach: Terrain elevation contour colors correspond to the lower blue-green-brown-white color scale. Selected bathymetric contours are shown as dashed white lines on the surface. The animated water surface is contoured by significant wave height using the blue-white-red scale. Vectors represent the depth-averaged flow magnitude and direction, but only at every 1/10th grid cell for clarity.

 

Title slide image for ASBPA 2017 presentation

I recently presented the results of a year-long research project on synthesizing the capacity of natural and nature-based features (NNBF) to reduce coastal storm hazards. The presentation was given in the Living Shorelines session at ASPA 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in October. The project, and presentation, were a collaboration between researchers at USA, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Northeastern University, the City College of New York, and the US Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center who funded the project.

 

More than 200 published research papers were identified, evaluated, and synthesized in this work. The synthesis focuses on the ability of marshes, mangroves, maritime forests, seagrasses, reefs, beaches, and dunes to attenuate waves, storm surge, flooding, and erosion. With very few exceptions, the literature does not contain unified methods for analyzing and describing these capabilities, and the range of values describing their performance is broad. Regardless of the uncertainty in published values, there is literature that supports the capacity of each of the NNBF considered to provide some measurable reduction of coastal storm hazards. A logical next step is to perform a detailed meta-analysis on values reported in these publications in order to determine average performance values and characterizations of their uncertainty.

 

A short animation of the presentation can be viewed by clicking on the title slide shown here. Please contact me for a full copy of the presentation.

 

Pres-cover-pageThe latest study out of our ACES center (Applied Coastal Engineering & Science) is now available. The study, entitled “Lake Forest Mapping: Analysis of Shoaling and Pool Volumes,” was recently completed for the Lake Forest Property Owner’s Association and the City of Daphne with contracting support provided by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. The goals of the study were to determine how much sediment has accumulated in the Lake Forest lake (reservoir) since the time of dam construction in 1973/1974, where the largest accumulations of sediment have occurred, and what the remaining normal pool volume is within the lake.

We collected over 12,000 new elevation measurements within and around the lake to map the sediment elevations and also analyzed eight (8) shallow sediment push cores from the lake bed. The results of the study show that over 300,000 cubic yards of medium to coarse grained sediments have accumulated, or shoaled, within the present-day lake shoreline since 1973/1974. Approximately 80% of the lake has shoaled by some measurable amount since the time of dam construction, with some areas accumulating over ten (10) feet of sediment! As a result, the pool volume of the lake has decreased by about 60% due to the accumulation of sediments. The remaining volume could perhaps accommodate another 90 years of sediment input at the current reported rate of 7800 tons per year (as per Cook & Moss, 2008[1]), but the margin for error is quite large.

I presented these study results at a recent Mobile Bay National Estuary Program’s Project Implementation Committee Meeting. A copy of that presentation [2] can be downloaded {here}.  A copy of the final study report [3] can be downloaded {here}.  Please include proper attribution and/or citation [2,3] when reusing these data, results, graphics, and/or figures.

[1] Cook, M., and Moss, N. 2008. Analysis of Water Quality, Sediment Loading Rates, Biological Resources, and Impacts of Land-Use Change on the D’Olive and Tiawasee Creek Watersheds, Baldwin County, Alabama, 2008. Geological Survey of Alabama, Open File Report 08-11: 92 pp.

[2] Webb, B.M. 2016. Lake Forest Mapping: Analysis of Shoaling and Pool Volumes. Mobile Bay National Estuary Program Project Implementation Committee Meeting. August 18, 2016. Presentation.

[3] Webb, B.M. 2016. Lake Forest Mapping: Analysis of Shoaling and Pool Volumes. University of South Alabama, Center for Applied Coastal Engineering and Science, Technical Report No. 16-002F. 41 pp.

 

images

 

I just returned from a quick visit to Washington, D.C. for the annual Transportation Research Board meeting. I provided a presentation on wave-induced local pier scour and submitted a paper for publication in the Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. A decision on final publication is pending and should be made soon. The paper abstract can be downloaded  {here}. A citation is listed below. The full paper is available in the compendium of papers distributed at the TRB meeting. Click on the TRB logo for a direct link to the meeting web site. Contact me directly if you are interested in seeing a copy of the presentation.

 

  • Webb, B. M., Matthews, M. T. 2014. Wave-induced scour at cylindrical piles: estimating equilibrium scour depth in a transition zone. Meeting of the Transportation Research Board. Washington, D.C., Jan 14-16.

 

 

Pres_Page1

 

One of my graduate students, Chris Marr, recently completed his thesis research on the spatial variability of residence, exposure, and flushing times of Mobile Bay, Alabama. A copy of Chris’ final thesis can be found {here}.

 

I was given the opportunity to present Chris’ research results at today’s 2013 Alabama Water Resources Conference in Orange Beach, Alabama. Click on the image at right for a PDF of the presentation. For those of you that didn’t make it to see the presentation, I narrated a version and have embedded the video below.

 

 

 

*Note: we have modified the results slightly based on recent input from colleagues. The changes generally only affect results in Bon Secour Bay. The narration and presentation show the update results.