Description of field of research

Coastal Engineering studies the ways that waves interact with structures and our coastlines.  Measuring waves can be challenging and relies on point source measurements from floating buoy networks [eg.] which tend to capture statistical properties to describe the wave height and wave period. Full spectral information is not typically captured, and we make assumptions of the distributions of waves based on studies from various parts of the world. The most common assumed spectra is the JONSWAP  ( developed from analysis of waves in the North Atlantic. A key parameter in defining the JONSWAP spectra is a gamma term that describes the overall peakedness of the spectra. The most common value is gamma=3.3. The value is used repeatedly by engineers around the world to model waves in laboratories and numerical models to better understand wave impacts. However, it has never been tested if this gamma value is appropriate for the NSW (or Australian) coastline. 

This project will extend off a preliminary 12-year analysis done by a Masters student and use new data provided by Manly Hydraulics Laboratory (NSW State govt) to rigorously assess this assumption on data available from a range of buoys along the NSW coastline.


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Area

Coastal Engineering; data analysis

The position is based at the Water Research Laboratory (WRL), the birth place of Coastal Engineering in Australia and home to a large, industry-based research team (engineers) and academics. WRL is located in Manly Vale and students are expected to be able to come to site. This campus is a dynamic environment of roughly 70 staff that consist of academic researchers, PhD students, and consulting engineers. It is expected that the successful student will work at the lab alongside A/Prof Splinter and Ian Coghlan (Senior Projects Engineering, WRL) as part of this project.

The ideal candidate will be an upper year student interested in water/coastal engineering. Preference will be given to students who have taken or will be taking coastal engineering (CVEN 9640) in T1 as the theory taught in this course underpins the analysis done here. Analysis is done in MATLAB so a working knowledge of MATLAB (or Python as it is similar and skills are transferable) is required.

Student will analyse data using MATLAB to determine a general assessment of optimal gamma values/best fit spectra to a range of buoys in NSW based on data provided by MHL.  This may include: (1) Extending the analysis of the Sydney directional spectra to 2022; (2) Analysing the non-directional spectra at Sydney to see if the median JONSWAP gamma is different at all using this dataset; and/or (3) Analysis of other sites in NSW.

The successful candidate will have the ability to successfully undertake detailed analysis of large amounts of data and the ability to pull this together into a succinct report and PowerPoint presentation. 

You will work with both engineers and academics on this project to support better industry outcomes related to wave modelling. Results will be presented in the form of a conference paper (peer-reviewed) at Coasts and Ports 2023. A PowerPoint presentation of the research outcomes will also be given by the student to WRL staff at the end of the project in addition to any other Taste of Research requirements.