New Jersey Coastal Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrodynamics Network (SWaTH)

Science Center Objects

Following Hurricane Sandy, the USGS began construction of an overland Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrodynamics (SWaTH) Network along the Northeastern Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Maine. This network, developed collaboratively with numerous partners, features the integration of long-term tide gage networks, with real-time rapid-deployment gages (RDG) and mobile storm-tide sensors (STS). An element of the comprehensive strategy of SWaTH ensures that locations for most RDGs and STSs have been pre-surveyed to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) and equipped with receiving brackets. This permits rapid deployment and recovery of instrumentation and data dissemination in the hours and days immediately after an event.

The SWaTH Network in New Jersey consists of existing and new flood-hardened, long-term, real-time tide gages, RDGs, and temporary STS locations. Locations in the SWaTH Network were selected according to three criteria: (1) a distributed array of stations representing the range of landscape types and infrastructure subject to surge and wave forces, (2) along transects from the coastline through the inland resource of concern (e.g. a wetland or coastal community), and (3) at existing tide and river monitoring stations where new data can be integrated with long-term records.Transects oriented perpendicular to the coastline across barrier islands, wetlands, and urban areas will enable scientists to measure and analyze wave height, frequency, and devolution as functions of water depth and distance inland – important factors that dramatically influence storm-tide damage.

Technician installing a wave sensor at a SWaTH site

Patrick Bowen installing a wave sensor to a utility pole at SWaTH transect site number NJOCE08009

(Credit: Michal Niemoczynski, USGS. Public domain.)

  • Many SWaTH Network locations were equipped with pre-installed and surveyed receiving brackets, which will hold a sensor for rapid deployment and recovery.
  • Pipe housings were designed to capture the entire tidal cycle collecting storm data at up to 4 times per second, so that scientists can assess both storm tide and wave energy.
  • The SWaTH Network will provide deployment of up to 65 RDGs from North Carolina to Maine, which will provide real-time tide elevation and meteorological data to complement existing NOAA and USGS long-term coastal gages.

Stations levels, in reference to NAVD88, were determined for each site through GNSS and optical surveying methods. Data for all SWaTH Network locations were entered into the USGS Short-Term Network (STN) database, which will provide a portal for the public dissemination of SWaTH Network data through the USGS Flood Event Viewer (FEV) and other web services


These data will help emergency responder’s and forecaster’s:

  • Track flood impacts
  • Provide more accurate warnings and advisories
  • Assess flood damage
  • Rush the appropriate assistance to flooded communities.

It will also lead to improved community safety and resilience as building codes and land use policies incorporate the new information.