Coastal Flooding & Solutions, Workshop Case Studies

Distributed rapid-deploy sensor network for real-time measurement of waves and water levels during hurricane impact

Location: North Carolina

Submitted By: Ryan Mieras - University of North Carolina Wilmington, Assistant Professor

Project Description

Here we discuss the development plan for a low-cost distributed wireless pressure sensor network for real-time measurement of hurricane-driven water levels and waves. The overarching goal of the development is to catalyze a shift away from the “deploy and retrieve” framework of data acquisition toward “real-time monitoring” of the hydrodynamic forces impacting coastal systems during hurricane attack. Real-time observations of hydrodynamic forcing in the coastal zone will serve to validate numerical models of storm hydrodynamic processes, thereby leading to better forecasting of storm hazards and prediction of damage to coastal infrastructure. The concept for the distributed sensor network was conceived by coastal engineering faculty at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina Wilmington, in collaboration with private industry (Agrinik, LLC) specializing in wireless communication technology. Consultation and guidance throughout the design will be provided by North Carolina Sea Grant coastal construction and erosion specialist, Spencer Rogers. The project team is currently applying for seed funding to develop a prototype distributed sensor network, perform controlled laboratory tests, and conduct two field trials on North Carolina’s Atlantic Coast. The prototype system will consist of multiple pressure sensor units (‘nodes’) that transmit data via short-range radio to a central gateway (‘hub’), and thereafter to the cloud via a cellular modem. Industry partnership will ensure rapid prototype development and a standardized final product available for purchase by stakeholders and researchers. Following completion of the prototype systems, a user-friendly web-based graphical interface will be developed such that coastal stakeholders can view and interact with live streams of the measurements to monitor real-time storm impacts in their coastal communities.

Key Successes

Establishing the partnerships with academic researchers, private industry, and state coastal construction specialists


real-time numerical model integration

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