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USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program

17-19. Hydrodynamics-based numerical modeling for predicting coastal change

Coastal change threatens communities along most of the world’s open-ocean shorelines. The USGS conducts research to understand and predict the evolution of coastal systems over time periods ranging from single events to many decades, and thereby provides scientific guidance to help mitigate adverse impacts to people, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Understanding the physical processes that control sediment movement and the morphodynamic response of sandy shorelines (e.g., erosion, accretion, overwash, inlet breaching) will increase our ability to forecast the cumulative impact of storms, sea-level rise, changes in sediment supply, and human alterations. With this predictive capability, planners and coastal managers can provide increased awareness to support advanced preparation for the minimization of loss of life and property, and to improve the management of natural resources.

We seek a Mendenhall postdoctoral scholar to improve the capability for predicting large-scale coastal change on sandy coasts through the development, testing, and/or application of hydrodynamics-based numerical models.  Most previous numerical efforts to investigate the processes contributing to coastal change are based on empirical approaches or models with limited capabilities and oversimplified physical processes. However, more recent numerical modeling systems can now simulate long-term coastal response over large spatial scales at fine resolution by using full three-dimensional physics to characterize coastal waves, flows, sediment transport, and morphological evolution. The incumbent may elect to advance a model through the incorporation of a new physical process or improve existing approaches. Applicants could investigate the processes driving coastal hydrodynamics and sediment transport, and/or evaluate model predictions against high-resolution morphologic change observations such as shoreline-change or dune/beach lidar and remote sensing data.  Investigations could be conducted over a variety of timescales from short (event-driven response and recovery) to long-term (decades) and examine the morphologic response of one or several alongshore features.  Understanding of the specific processes at one location can lead to broader understanding in other geographic locations.

Access to high performance computing resources and data storage servers will be made available. The incumbent will benefit from mentoring relationships within the USGS and from external parties, including scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Biological Laboratory, and academic collaborators.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisors, below, early in the application process to discuss project ideas.

Proposed Duty Station: Woods Hole, MA

Areas of Ph.D.: Oceanography, ocean or marine sciences, geology, computer science, civil engineering, coastal engineering, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications:Research Oceanographer; Research Geologist; Research Engineer (This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant’s background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)

Research Advisor(s): John Warner, (508) 457-2237,; Chris Sherwood, (508) 457-2269,; Erika Lentz, (508) 457-2238,

Human Resources Office Contact: Katherine Heller,, 703-648-7408

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last modified: 15:57:30 Fri 02 Nov 2018
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