||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
UW-Eau Claire Faculty Member|
Assists With Coastal Erosion Project
MAILED: May 25, 1999|
A large scale coastal erosion research project in southwest Washington continues to be a source of study for a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member.
Dr. Harry Jol, assistant professor of geography, has been working on the joint state and federally funded study of erosion problems on Washington's coast for the past three years and recently agreed to continue working with the project for another five years.
The first phase of the project, which Jol has participated in by contributing ground penetrating radar data and other research, will be completed next year and has focused on evaluating what has happened along the coast in the past to better understand what is happening to the coast presently.
The second phase of the project will be aimed at modeling the coast and working with coastal communities and the state government on solutions to the erosion crisis.
"If you look at what's been happening recently, shoreline has been disappearing at an alarming rate," Jol said. "Our goal with the project is to better understand this situation and help the people in this area understand the natural process involved."
During a storm this past January, 27-foot high waves washed away more than 30 feet of shoreline, threatening homes and businesses along a large stretch of the coast north of the Columbia river. Similar events have been happening along the coast in recent years. This massive erosion is due in part to the damming of the Columbia River this century, which has prevented needed sediment from working its way up the coastline.
As a result of these large-scale erosion problems, the Washington State Department of Ecology, U.S. Geological Survey and local agencies banned together to form the Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study in 1994.
Once the project is complete, Jol said the research gathered will be used to help coastal communities set guidelines for how to develop cities and counties in a safe and responsible manner.
Recently some of Jol's work with Ground Penetrating Radar was documented on a scientific video distributed nation-wide titled "At Ocean's Edge: Coastal Changes in Southwest Washington." The video reveals the broad range and complexity of the issues confronting coastal communities, and the efforts being made to resolve these issues through interviews with scientists, local government officials and coastal residents. The video's purpose was to make more people aware of the situation and allow the public to understand what's being done in plain English terms, Jol said.
"This is the largest project I've ever been involved in," he said. "The scope of the project and the number of people we are working and dealing with is incredible."
The project has also provided a number of students at UW-Eau Claire with the opportunity of a lifetime to study and learn first hand in the field, he said.
"We've been able to bring students out to the coast to become directly involved in collecting and processing data," Jol said. "They've also played a part in decision making with other students, professors and researchers."
Several of the students have been able to present their research at regional, national and international conferences. Jol has also used data from the project as up to date information in his classes and as examples to his upper level classes.
"Students have certainly benefited from this," he said.
Jol, who will head back to Washington this summer to do more research, said he's looking forward to continuing work with the project.
"It's been a lot of fun," he said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 25, 1999