CSI Fellow Highlight: Navid Jafari

 fieldwork

The coast provides many benefits to Louisiana, from natural resources to recreation. These benefits are diminishing because of wetland loss. I am excited that my research plays an integral role in understanding and predicting how we can implement coastal protection and restoration projects to sustain our wetlands into the future.

 Louisiana’s coast is facing sea level rise, subsidence, coastal erosion, and increased risk of flooding from hurricanes. I study how we can improve protection and restoration projects in Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan so that they are resilient to future challenges. In particular, we have limited funds to implement the projects proposed in the Master Plan, thus we need to balance cost and performance criteria. For example, if we have a better understanding of the compression of soils, we do not have to overdesign marsh creation projects, thereby substantially reducing costs while maintaining the required performance.

 I use field tests to measure the strength of various wetland soils and vegetation. I also study how waves erode the edges of marsh. My team and I are combining both sets of information to create an innovative mathematical model that will predict marsh erosion due to storm generated waves. Predicting marsh edge erosion is important because it is a leading contributor to wetland loss, and because it is challenging to measure accurately.  Different Louisiana marshes have different elevations, vegetation, and soil types. All of these factors influence how well marshes resist erosion, and it is these factors that our model considers. Our model is the first of its kind to account for both the driving forces of waves and the capacity of marshes to withstand erosion.

 A model that better predicts future marsh edge erosion will allow us to identify where the most vulnerable wetlands will be in the future. Our model will also forecast the impact of restoration projects in Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, allowing us to design more efficient shoreline restoration and protection measures. By providing stakeholders the data needed to make informed decisions, my work will help build more resilient marshes against future sea level rise, subsidence, and tropical storms.

For more information, please visit my web site at https://www.lsu.edu/eng/cee/people/Jafari.php

field test