There is some commotion going on at Agate Beach these days as ocean scientists set up equipment to measure wave “run up” when waves are low as well as being pushed hard by offshore storms. Scientists from the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography will be measuring how far waves come up the beach and at what energy level. Survey results will create a baseline of data against which will be measured the physical effects of global warming. As the Earth’s atmosphere heats up, it will increase the power and frequency of storms which will fill the waves with higher energy and therefore size. The study is intended to increase our understanding of the effects of the Earth’s atmosphere on the world’s oceans and beaches.
The study team has already conducted studies off the shores of Cardiff, CA, which is considered a “low energy” beach because the waves never get that big. They wanted to measure conditions at the other end of the spectrum by measuring wave behavior at Agate Beach which receives much larger waves than Cardiff. Similar studies have also been going on in Europe.
The practical use of such data is quite valuable in a lot of circumstances, not the least of which is to determine the vulnerability of coastal highways to rising surf levels. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping to fund the study for that reason.
Scientists say the survey is NOT connected in any way to offshore energy production studies or wave energy equipment design. Professor Robert Guza says his research never has, and never will be, connected to the wave energy industry. He told the public Thursday evening that the work simply involves scientists working in a small sub-set of oceanographic research disciplines.
Professor Guza says the equipment installation has begun at Agate Beach and that all their instruments should be installed in the surf line as well as in the beach in a few days. He said there will be frequent monitoring of the site as well as continuous data downloading activities. HMSC’s scientific cameras will also be trained on the area as well 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The study will terminate shortly before Thanksgiving.