Weather

Duke researchers use drones to measure impact of hurricanes on NC beaches

Posted September 6

— Researchers from Duke University are using drones to look at the changes in shoals and barrier islands on the North Carolina coast.

The researchers are hoping the drones can better predict how the changes could impact storm surge from future hurricanes.

Sunny Newton has lived in Beaufort for 53 years.

“Four generations of Newtons now have shared this house,” she said.

While the waters near her home were calm Wednesday, with Hurricane Irma’s path not yet clear, she has a lot of questions about her home’s future.

To figure out what to do to keep her home safe for another storm, she can look to her son for some answers.

“We’re taking off the shelf the drones that we’ve built ourselves with different types of sensors and we’re able to use these emerging technologies for marine science,” said Rett Newton, a Ph. D. student with the Duke University Marine Lab.

Drone footage shows a ten meter migration of the Barrier Islands just days after Hurricane Matthew.

“With Irma being potentially a much stronger storm than Matthew was, hitting us, we could expect to see more beach loss,” said Justin Ridge with the Duke University Marine Lab. “That island, Bird Shoal, if that erodes and gets compromised, that energy is going to be funneling directly into Beaufort.”

The wave energy could be devastating for those who call Beaufort home.

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