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Echosounding survey with environmental sciences graduate student Anna Miller offshore of Wrightsville Beach, NC.

As Hurricane Florence barreled toward the coast of North Carolina in September 2018, UNCW scientists saw an opportunity in motion. While most in the area were focused on the storm’s path, a few industrious Seahawks recognized the need to secure funding for storm-related research.

Scientists deployed experiments and researched topics from seagrass resilience to coastal vulnerability with the aid of Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grants from the National Science Foundation. The grants, totaling $200,210, were instrumental in collecting time-sensitive, perishable data during and after Hurricane Florence.

“Without this grant we would not have been able to make these measurements or answer our main research questions,” said Joe Long, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences. He and his team used funding to install equipment and collect data from Masonboro Island. The research was driven by a need to document and understand the immediate impact of Hurricane Florence to local barrier islands and observe the way the islands naturally recover after an extreme storm.

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