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20-7. Three-dimensional modeling of reef-fronted coastlines


Closing Date: January 6, 2022

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.



Steep irregular bathymetry and large bottom roughness common to coral and rocky reef environments make predictions of coastal flooding and other associated coastal hazards challenging, as the majority of existing nearshore wave and circulation models were developed and validated for open sandy coastlines. USGS products including the Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer (TWL&CC forecasts) are presently only applicable to open sandy coastlines in its assessment of near real-time water levels and storm-driven erosion risks. Consequently, a substantial portion of the US coastline composed of non-sandy coasts lacks coastal change forecasts.

Three-dimensional (3D) wave-resolving models simulate individual sea-swell and infragravity waves, as well as depth and horizontally varying currents. These models incorporate more direct representations of physical processes than found in more computationally efficient coastal hazards models. As a result, 3D wave-resolving models are often more applicable to reef environments, as they are less reliant on parameterizations that have been developed for open sandy coastlines. Recently, the use of high-performance computers has enabled 3D wave-resolving models to be applied at coastal scales. This work has revealed previously unknown coastal dynamics and enabled higher resolution and more accurate predictions of nearshore waves, water levels, and currents. However, fundamental research questions and clear challenges remain before 3D wave-resolving models can be applied across a wider range of coastal hazards applications.

This research opportunity focuses on the development of 3D wave-resolving models of reef-fronted coastlines. It is expected that successful candidates could improve the understanding of wave transformation, wave setup, wave runup, and sediment transport on reef-fronted coastlines using hindcasts of recent field and laboratory experiments conducted by the USGS and international collaborators. These datasets will allow the applicant to test model developments against observations with unprecedented resolution. The results from the 3D wave-resolving model will then be used to inform the development of forecasts of total water level and coastal change hazards on reef-fronted coastlines.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas.

Proposed Duty Station: St. Petersburg, Florida

Areas of PhD: Oceanography, coastal engineering, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet the qualifications for: Research Oceanographer

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)

Human Resources Office Contact:  Sinar Santillano Oliveros, 303-236-9585,