Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil Engineering

Committee Director

David R. Basco

Committee Member

Malcolm E. Scully

Committee Member

Jaewan Yoon

Committee Member

Gregory L. Williams

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.E542 W35 2010


A new coastal storm-strength parameter, the Coastal Storm Impulse (COSI) parameter, was introduced at the 2006 International Conference of Coastal Engineering (ICCE) in San Diego and further discussed at the ICCE 2008 in Hamburg. COSI is based on the conservation of linear, horizontal momentum to combine storm surge, wave dynamics, and currents over the storm duration. Both tropical storms (hurricanes) and extra-tropical storms (northeasters) can produce similar COSI parameters. Potential implications of such a storm classification system include the evaluation of potential coastal erosion and coastal infrastructure, as well as providing a universal storm strength indicator that is directly tied to coastal physical parameters and not limited to wind speed.

Typical COSI values for a given region will be site-specific. For example, the COSI value for a typical East Coast storm would be much lower than the COSI value for a typical West Coast storm, given the different oceanographic conditions of the two coastlines. For the study period of 1994 to 2003 along the Atlantic Coast at Duck, North Carolina, COSI values were found to range from 0.69*10"6 n-m/hr to 49.72*10"6 n-m/hr with lognormal distribution.

This thesis explores the application of the COSI parameter to predict coastal erosion along the sub-aerial ocean beach at Duck, North Carolina on the East Coast of the United States. Data for the 10-year study period (1994 to 2003) have been analyzed to produce 249 storms for study of coastal erosion. When the profile response due to these coastal storms was assessed through a pre- and post-storm volumetric determination for the sub-aerial beach, mixed results showing both erosion and accretion were observed. This thesis explores the possible explanations and implications of these findings. An investigation of what factors influence whether a given storm event will cause sediment to move onshore or offshore is included within the discussion.


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