Reef Restoration

Engineering Coastal Resilience Through Reef Restoration: Reduction of Wave Energy by Reef Structures and Impacts on Storm Surge and Infrastructure


For this proposal, UM experts who were working independently on different aspects of coastal resiliency are joining forces to explore ways to restore green infrastructure—mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs—to protect coastal communities from ocean waves, increased flooding, storm surge, and sea-level rise, all exacerbated by climate change.

By combining their expertise, team members plan to develop better strategies for restoring green infrastructure through numerical and physical modeling, field validation studies, and wind-wave experiments in the Rosenstiel School’s SUSTAIN—SUrge STructure Atmosphere INteraction—laboratory, the 38,000-gallon tank that can simulate hurricane-force winds, sea spray, and storm surge.

As team member Diego Lirman, associate professor of marine biology and ecology, noted, “Miami-Dade County is spending millions of dollars to mitigate impacts of waves, storm surge, and flooding by deploying pumps, raising streets, and building sea walls. But green infrastructure provided by coastal ecosystems like healthy coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses can mitigate the impacts of climatic hazards in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.”


Team members: Diego Lirman, RSMAS; Andrew Baker, RSMAS; Brian Haus, RSMAS; David Letson, RSMAS; Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, Engineering, Sonia Chao, Architecture; Jyotika Ramaprasad, Communication; Angela Clark-Hughes, RSMAS Science Library; Jane V. Carrick, RSMAS research associate