Researchers Launch New Coastal Science Study

Scientists from several institutions have launched a new coastal research project
in La Jolla, Calif. The Nearshore Canyon Experiment (NCEX), with field operations
Sept. 16 through Dec. 15, seeks to answer potentially important questions for coastal environments around the world. A range of instruments is being deployed to monitor the coast from water, land, and air. NCEX is designed to determine the effects of submarine canyons and other complex seafloor formations on waves and currents. Understanding such processes is important to answer scientific questions and to address public safety issues such as rip currents. Scientists will use the Scripps research vessel Robert Gordon Sproul to deploy wave and current measuring instruments offshore, and small boats and scuba divers to deploy equipment nearer to the shoreline.


Nearshore Canyon Experiment

Sept. 16 - Dec. 15, 2003


· The Nearshore Canyon Experiment (NCEX), a large multi-institutional project, will address several important problems in coastal oceanography using a range of scientific instrumentation and observation methods. At the core of the experiment, scientists will collect field measurements to test numerical models of how underwater canyons affect important coastal processes.


· The purpose of NCEX is to determine how the underwater topography of submarine canyons affects wave propagation and nearshore currents, coastal processes important to beach erosion. As waves pass over the canyons, the steep topography can act like a magnifying glass and concentrate ocean wave energy in "hot spots" where waves are large (like those at Black's Beach). Alongshore variation of waves and currents can result
in rip currents. Increased understanding of nearshore waves and currents, including "hot spots," can be used to improve beach management and public safety.


· The project instrumentation will be located both offshore and on the beach, extending northward from La Jolla Shores, to Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Torrey Pines State Beach. The two large submarine canyons under investigation are Scripps Canyon and La Jolla Canyon.


· Extensive arrays of instruments will measure waves, currents, and sand levels in and around the submarine canyons. These instruments include buoys, sea-surface drifters, current meters, radar, sonar, video cameras, WaveRunners, all-terrain vehicles, and airplanes (for aerial surveys). Instruments located in depths of 2.5 meters or shallower will be cabled to small shore stations or trailers on the beach. Instruments in deeper water will store data on internal recording systems or use wireless technology to transmit data to shore.


· The project involves more than 20 scientists from more than 10 institutions and organizations, including:

* Arete Associates

* Naval Postgraduate School

* Naval Research Laboratory/Stennis Space Center

* Ohio State University

* Oregon State University

* Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UCSD

* Texas A&M University

* University of Massachusetts

* Veridian Systems

* Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

NCEX funding agencies are the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.


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