Focus Area

Human and Natural Systems Modeling

The complexity of coastal and deltaic systems which intertwine ecology, hydrology, and sediment movement with economic, cultural, and community needs, makes finding the solutions to coastal challenge greater than any one single piece.

Understanding and analyzing these systems in an integrated manner is essential to predicting and anticipating future changes and improving management decisions. Analytical tools and numerical models allow the effects of management actions to be “virtually tested” prior to implementation for a more complete understanding of how human activities influence and interact with natural system dynamics. The future will not be the same as the past, and incorporating the effects of climate change and extreme weather into models can support researchers and managers alike in assessing future system sustainability and the effectiveness of coastal restoration and protection strategies.

The Water Institute develops and applies world-class integrated hydrologic, morphodynamic, and ecosystem numerical tools to understand short- and long-term dynamics of complex riverine, coastal, and deltaic systems. In addition, the Institute directly engages with residents and stakeholders to understand, map, and assess their needs in the context of changing human and natural systems. This combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches support and inform decision-makers on how to manage and sustain valuable natural resources and infrastructure.

Our team uses a wide range of numerical modeling software including: Delft3D, X-Beach, MIKE-FLOOD, OpenFOAM, and FLOW3D. We led the development of the Integrated Compartment Model (ICM), a comprehensive predictive landscape and ecosystem model that supports large-scale coastal planning efforts. In April 2015, we earned a Delft3D Modeling Center certification, the first North America-based organization to receive such a credential. In addition, our ArcGIS server supports coordinated use and sharing of geospatial data of all types and enables the team to publish/share their data for quick and easy use of datasets.

Key Projects

“This is your shield…this is your estuary”

Although coastal restoration and protection is sometimes thought to only require technical input, coastal communities ar...

Pacific Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Climate Change Project

Like coastal communities all over the world, countries in the Pacific Islands face shoreline erosion, subsidence, sea le...

Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan

The loss of more than 1,800 square miles of coastal land endangers far more than just wetland ecosystems. Louisiana’s co...