American Society of Civil Engineers recognizes Rhode Island grad student

Danielle Godreau examined the impact of rising sea levels on the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier’s ability to protect Port of New Bedford communities from flooding. | File photo

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently awarded University of Rhode Island graduate student Danielle Goudreau first place for her research paper on the protective potential of the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier in light of rising sea levels.

“I still can’t believe it,’’ Goudreau said. “It was an honor to be recognized for the research I’ve been doing. It also reflects on how much I’ve learned through my years as an engineering student at URI.’’

The society selected Godreau’s paper, “Investigation of Combined Storm Surge Inundation and Sea Level Rise to the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier,” as one of four to be presented at its recent conference in New Orleans, where it was voted into the first-place position.

Using computer models, Godreau examined the impact of rising sea levels on the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier’s ability to protect Port of New Bedford communities from flooding. She found that an elevated sea level of 4 feet, which matches projections of a 3- to 5- foot raise by 2100, coupled with intense storms would lead to significant damage in the area.

“The results of my project indicate the importance of resiliency to be included in the design for new coastal stabilization structures,’’ Goudreau said. “While the next extreme storm event can’t be accurately predicted, the use of my model for the barrier indicates there are many storm scenarios that could cause major damage by overtopping the barrier.’’

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