Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil Engineering

Committee Director

Navid Tahvildari

Committee Member

Gangfeng Ma

Committee Member

Jaewan Yoon


In this study, an integrated hydrodynamic, wave, and sediment transport modeling approach is developed for predicting the spatiotemporal variation of erosion of a sandy shoreline due to storm surge, wave action, tidal variations, and relative sea level rise (RSLR). The study site is located at the northern most portion of the city of Norfolk, Virginia, and it is of importance to the city, both in terms of tourism and for the protection that it provides for upland properties against storms. The region, in general, experiences the highest rate of RSLR on the U.S. East Coast which should result in high rate of erosion. The stretch of the shoreline that is of particular interest in this study has documented high erosion rates and undergoes frequent re-nourishment. Future beach nourishment and re-nourishment projects can benefit from long-term data on beach morphological change and reliable models to predict erosion in response to changing coastal forces. This study aims to develop a reliable predictive model, closely integrated with available field surveys, for shoreline erosion. A coupled hydrodynamic+wave model, based on the Delft3D modeling suite, is developed and applied to compute flow and wave parameters for the area of interest. Upon validation of the coupled model with in-situ water level and wave data, the model output is used as input to the XBeach model, which computes the shoreline response for a two-dimensional grid along the beach. The XBeach model is validated with field surveys. The model is then applied to assess RSLR impacts on beach erosion. RSLR scenarios span moderate to high projections, and three time horizons of 2020, 2030 and 2070 are considered. The results indicate that RSLR consistently increases shoreline erosion along the beach.


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