Navigate Up
Sign In
User Login


FEMA Partners with Oceanweather and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to Bring Modeling Expertise to CCAMP OPC Study
Justin Vandever, P.E., Coastal Engineer, BakerAECOM
The study process for a coastal flood study along the California Pacific coast starts many hundreds or thousands of miles offshore in the vast Pacific Ocean basin.  Waves that run up on our beaches, causing inundation or erosion, can be generated by stormy conditions as far away as the Gulf of Alaska, New Zealand, or close to home by strong winds blowing over the ocean’s surface. In order to predict coastal flooding and erosion processes at the shoreline, we must first develop an understanding of how waves are generated, travel, and transform as they move across the ocean and into nearshore areas.
As part of the California Coastal Analysis and Mapping Project (CCAMP) Ocean Pacific Coast (OPC) Study, FEMA brought together two key partners, Oceanweather, Inc. (OWI) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), to provide deepwater and nearshore wave modeling expertise.   In collaboration with FEMA’s study contractor, BakerAECOM, the study team is producing a 50-year hindcast (1960 through 2009) of wave climatology for the entire California coastline – the most comprehensive dataset of its kind ever created for a west coast flood study.  A hindcast is a historical reconstruction of past meteorological and oceanographic conditions based on observational data and numerical modeling of past conditions.  Oceanweather, Inc. used historical meteorological data from pressure charts, shipboard observations, buoys, and satellite measurements to reconstruct atmospheric conditions throughout the Pacific Ocean basin for the duration of the hindcast period.  Using advanced numerical modeling techniques, the historical wind forcing was applied to a wave generation and propagation model to simulate a 50-year continuous record of deepwater wave conditions offshore of the California coastline.
As waves move from deep water to shallow water, they undergo complex interactions with the seafloor which act to transform the waves and change their characteristics. Wave energy is focused in some areas and defocused in other areas depending on a variety of factors, including wave period and direction, seafloor topography, and coastline exposure.  Scientists and engineers typically use advanced modeling techniques to capture this spatial variability and make wave predictions in areas where direct buoy measurements are unavailable.  Using a numerical model developed by researchers at the SIO Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP), the study team transformed the deepwater wave conditions from OWI’s offshore hindcast to determine the coincident wave conditions at the shoreline. Wave model output is recorded in 10-15m water depths (at the edge of the surf zone) at a spacing of 100-200m alongshore. The high resolution of the wave transformation model output ensures that accurate nearshore wave data are applied to each coastal reach within the study area.  Various wave parameters, such as wave height, period, and direction, are computed and archived with the model hindcast data at each output point for later use in wave run-up computations at the shoreline.
Additional information about OWI and SIO CDIP can be found on their websites: OWI and CDIP.

 Coastal Beat Story Archive

collapse Year : 2012 ‎(7)
<a href=''>Risk Map Local</a>
<a href=''>FEMA Leverages LiDAR</a>
<a href=''>FEMA’s CCAMP Studies and Our Coast, Our Future</a>
<a href=''>Region IX to Conduct First Flood Risk Review Meeting for CCAMP</a>
collapse Year : 2013 ‎(19)
<a href=''>FEMA Partners with Oceanweather and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to Bring Modeling Expertise to CCAMP OPC Study</a>
<a href=''>FEMA Region IX Holds Meetings for the California Coastal Analysis and Mapping Project / Open Pacific Coast Study</a>
<a href=''>Primary Frontal Dune Coastal High Hazard Area Mapping Requirements</a>
<a href=''>FEMA Holds South Bay Workshop to Kick-off Detailed Analysis in the South Bay Counties</a>
<a href=''>Translating Coastal Flood Hazard Modeling Results into Floodplain Mapping</a>
<a href=''>Terrain Modeling in FEMA’s California Coastal Flood Studies</a>
<a href=''>Join FEMA’s Community Rating System Program Using California’s Statewide Floodplain Management Activities</a>
<a href=''>Coastal Flood Processes Along the California Coast</a>
<a href=''>FEMA’s Annual Risk Awareness Survey: Findings from Previous Surveys and the Focus for the 2013 Survey</a>
collapse Year : 2014 ‎(9)
<a href=''>E386 Residential Coastal Construction</a>
<a href=''>Engaging Stakeholders to Help Communicate Impacts of BW-12</a>
<a href=''></a>
<a href=''>California Coastal Storm History Part Two – Ventura County</a>
<a href=''>Redelineation: What does it mean for me?</a>
collapse Year : 2015 ‎(2)
<a href=''>FEMA increases community access to draft floodplain mapping data </a>
collapse Year : 2016 ‎(6)
<a href=''></a>
1 - 40Next

 Other Stories

expand Arizona
Educating Maricopa County on the Power of Water,
Discovery Process, Thursday, February 23, 2012
expand California
Discovery Process, Thursday, March 1, 2012
NFIP Substantial Improvement and Substantial Damage Course, Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Santa Barbara County and Incorporated Areas Countywide Flood Insurance Rate Map,
Join FEMA’s Community Rating System Program Using California’s Statewide Floodplain Management Activities,
expand Coastal Studies
Discovery Process, Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Betty the Prepared Dog, Saturday, April 28, 2012
expand Hawaii
Tsunami: Learning from Experience in Hawaii,
Public Outreach Meeting for FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map, Wednesday, August 8, 2012
expand Nevada
Clark County Flood Facts,
expand Region Wide
Be Prepared for a Flooding Event in your Community Today!,
Watershed University , Friday, June 1, 2012
Know Your Line: Be Flood Aware, Thursday, May 2, 2013
1 - 30 Next
  • Local Coastal Programs Help Communities Rise to the Occasion with Successful Mitigation

    For decades, the Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) that govern land use along the California coastline were focused on conservation and recreation, but not mitigation. That’s changing thanks to a state grant program that has made millions of dollars available for local communities to update their LCPs, with priority given to those that address sea-level rise, increasing erosion, and other effects of climate change.

  • Analyzing and Mapping Wave Overtopping in FEMA Coastal Flood Studies

    Wave overtopping is a common coastal hazard and source of flooding along the Pacific coast. During severe coastal storms, high waves and wave runup can overtop coastal barriers including bluffs, dunes, seawalls, revetments, and beach berms. When this happens, the overtopping water floods the area immediately behind the barrier. In some cases, the overtopping water has enough energy and force to damage structures, including homes. Therefore, analysis of wave overtopping is typically an important part of a detailed coastal flood study. It is also useful for communities to understand the process of wave overtopping so they can identify where it is included on their coastal flood maps. Learn more about some of the physical aspects of wave overtopping, how it was analyzed and why it was mapped in the California Coastal Analysis and Mapping Project (CCAMP) Open Pacific Coast (OPC) Study in this article.

View RSS feed

Powered by BakerAECOM