BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A new $1.4 million grant from NASA will give LSU researchers the opportunity to view the western Gulf in a new way: by a computer modeling approach called ‘coupled modeling.’

With the new grant, scientists from LSU will track coastal Louisiana and Texas wetland and estuary responses to severe weather disturbances.

Scientists hope to gain greater understanding of how coastal wetlands and estuaries respond to increasingly severe hurricanes, tropical storms and inland flooding. Research will focus on ecosystem resistance and resilience and will span three sites: the grass and wetlands of Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, urbanized Galveston Bay in Texas, and the arid Mission-Aransas Estuary off the coast of Texas.

One of the major purposes of the project is the ocean hydrological model, which Xue says may be among the first of its kind.

Computer models of two separate systems are paired to run simultaneously, interacting as systems would in nature and resulting in a more accurate depiction of coastal processes like compound flooding.

Computer modeling techniques require a lot of processing power and must be run on Louisiana’s High Performance Computing Facility, Louisiana’s only supercomputer.

“By applying and further developing the state-of-the-art compound flooding model, this project will significantly boost our understanding of the land-ocean interaction during extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods. The knowledge and technology gained from this project will benefit not only coastal Louisiana and Texas but also are transferable to other locations that are prone to coastal natural disasters,” said Z. George Xue, research team head and associate professor in LSU’s Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences.

Visit LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment for more information.