Using an integrated approach, The Water Institute of the Gulf provides a suite of capabilities from large-scale plans and decision-support tools to targeted research and technical reviews. Collaboration across disciplines allows the Institute to provide a more holistic approach to problem solving, incorporating large and small scale integrated physical-ecological modeling, sediment and geomorphological processes, coastal ecological systems understanding and community based analysis.

Whether in the field collecting information, in the lab analyzing results, or through the world-class numerical modeling, the Institute’s strength comes not only from the world class researchers, but from the integrated way we approach applied research and problem solving.

In addition to the work the Institute has done on bathemetry, sediment transport and hydrology in support of Louisiana’s sediment diversion plans, the Institute has also been involved in evaluating waterflow needs for ecosystem stability and real-time flood forecasting tools that take local river and floodways into account. The Institute’s strength comes not only from the world class researchers, but from the integrated way we approach applied research and problem solving.

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Field Investigations

We undertake a wide range of boat-based and fixed-station observations and field investigations of riverine, deltaic, coastal, and continental shelf environments. Using a variety of sampling techniques and investigative tools, our team performs river channel and coastal surveys of bathymetry, hydrodynamics, and sediment dynamics, as well as sampling a range of submerged and emergent biotic communities and ecosystem processes. The Institute also conducts sub-bottom acoustic surveys, performs geological measurements, characterizes wetland vegetation and soil through the collections of data in complex and rugged coastlines.

Read our one-pager on Field Investigations.


Real-Time Sensor Data Collection and Monitoring Design

We have a number of sensors and data collection platforms that we deploy for long periods of time in order to gather data for parameters such as flow characteristics, suspended sediment, water quality, and meteorology. We also design monitoring approaches to obtain repeated long-term measurements that can be analyzed to detect change that may result from a variety of sources, including large-scale restoration and protection projects, environmental disturbances, changing climate, and other major drivers.

Read our one-pager on Water Quality.


Integrated Natural System Modeling

We develop and apply world-class integrated hydrologic, morphodynamic, and ecosystem numerical tools to understand short- and long-term dynamics of complex riverine, coastal, and deltaic systems. These predictive numerical models support and inform decision-makers on how to manage and sustain valuable natural resources and infrastructure. Our team uses a wide range of numerical models and is continually seeking and identifying the best available tools in the research and practitioner communities. Examples of modeling software that we currently utilize include: Delft3D, MIKE-FLOOD, OpenFOAM, and FLOW3D. We led the development of the Integrated Compartment Model (ICM), a comprehensive predictive landscape and ecosystem model that supports large-scale coastal planning efforts. In April 2015, we earned a Delft3D Modeling Center certification, the first North America-based organization to receive such a credential.

Read our one-pager on Modeling.


Analytics and Integrated Decision Support

We develop and apply integrated decision support systems linking sensors, predictions, and analytics in a real time framework that can support coastal planning preparedness, operations, and emergency response at local and regional scales. Our goal is to make links between data, models, and end users more seamless in order to provide high quality information to support effective and transparent decision making.


Spatial Analysis of Socioeconomic and Ecosystem Change

We use geospatial analytics and data visualization to better understand patterns of change and the relationship of the natural system to society. This includes analysis of U.S. Census and American Community Survey data, reconstruction of historic ecosystem change, and investigation of potential future system response to planned restoration and protection measures. We combine site scale data on biotic communities with coastwide data sets, to assess change in ecosystem function over time.


Decision Support

In addition to our applied research program, the Institute is often called upon to connect academic, public, and private research providers from around the world to find and evaluate solutions to coastal protection and restoration challenges. Our decision support efforts inform a range of implementation and policy decisions, from large-scale ecosystem restoration, to natural coastal infrastructure, to water systems management.

Read our one-pager on Decision Support.


Independent Technical Expert Review

Independent review by subject matter experts not directly involved in projects is essential to ensure technical information used in decision making is sound, evidence-based, and meets the state of the practice. Because of our experience and relationships, we conduct peer reviews, either by using our experts within the Institute, or by tapping into our network of experts across the country and the world.


Expert Opinion and Advice

Members of our technical team are called upon to provide expert opinion and advice as others work through complex coastal, deltaic, and water resource related challenges. This includes serving in an advisory role on large-scale restoration planning efforts and providing consulting support to others as they undertake new projects or initiatives.

The Water Institute’s invaluable applied research, knowledge, and experience gained in coastal Louisiana are already being extended globally, with engagements in Chile, Egypt, the Netherlands, Pacific island countries, and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

We also welcome the opportunity to apply our expertise and to partner with mission-driven organizations who share our passion for advancing resilient coasts and sustainable water systems worldwide.