VIDEO: University research team is working to build Miami’s economic and climate resilience by restoring its coral reefs

In Miami, Florida, beautiful beaches and tropical climate are the biggest asset, attracting many thousands of tourists and potential residents each year. But with climate change pushing sea levels and temperatures up, along with more menacing tropical storms, South Florida’s coastlines are under threat.

While communities are pouring millions into beach restoration projects or seawall restoration efforts, one group of professors at the University of Miami is using its knowledge about coral reefs, coastal engineering, architecture, and communications to come up with a more sustainable solution.

After testing in the SUSTAIN facility (the largest wave and wind tank simulator in the United States, housed at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science) showed promising results, an interdisciplinary team of professors and their students—all part of a project funded by the University Laboratory for Integrative Science (U-LINK)—are planning to deploy artificial reef structures off the shores of Miami Beach to see if these help moderate wave energy. If they work, these artificial reef structures, which will also be populated by live nursery-grown corals, could be a viable solution to mitigate wave impacts and reduce erosion and coastal flooding along South Florida’s coastline.

The team includes professors Diego Lirman and Andrew Baker from the Marine Biology and Ecology Department; Brian Haus, chair of the Ocean Sciences Department at the Rosenstiel School; Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, professor from the College of Engineering; Sonia Chao, professor from the School of Architecture; and Jyotika Ramaprasad, professor from the School of Communication.

The video about the project, created by Ramaprasad and her students, explains the work this team is doing to protect Miami-Dade County’s precious shoreline in a way that may also spawn a resurgence of marine life along the artificial reefs. The group is currently waiting on permits from the county and the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection before installing some of these artificial reefs in collaboration with the City of Miami Beach, which is a key partner in the project.

Photo of Miami via Pixabay.

Watch 15-minute video.

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