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R-MC Professor Helps Develop Coastal Resiliency App

Mar 09, 2017


Professor FensterRandolph-Macon College Environmental Studies and Geology Professor Michael Fenster has developed a coastal resiliency app in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Duke University, University of North Carolina and other constituents.

The March 2, 2017 edition of the Virginian Pilot featured a story about the app.

Fenster's work is the culmination of two years of grant-funded work. In 2014 he received a $1.5 million collaborative grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to work with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and a scientific team from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill and Wilmington) and Duke University to develop climate-hazard mitigation and risk reduction strategies for various stakeholders on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Development of the app is one of the initiatives funded by the grant.

"The app provides stakeholders along the Virginia coast north of the Chesapeake Bay mouth with scientific data and tools that can be used to make wise management and other decisions along those coasts—for example, Assateague Island, Wallops Island/NASA, and Chincoteague Island," says Fenster, the Stephen H. Watts Professor of Science. "I worked specifically on the Coastline Change portal in the app, which contains one of the most complete and robust shoreline change datasets in the world. I also had the pleasure to collaborate with colleagues from North Carolina on state-of-the-art modeling that explores how climate change, combined with management actions over a 50-year time frame, may affect the rates of shoreline change along a simulated Virginia barrier island system."

Fenster also partnered with specialists from NASA, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the creation of the app. An article about the app was also featured in the January 4, 2017 edition of the Virginian Pilot.

Michael Fenster
Fenster, who joined the R-MC faculty 1998, has served as the director of the Environmental Studies program since 2006. He earned his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Mississippi and his Ph.D. from Boston University.

Fenster's research specializes in the morphodynamic changes to beaches and tidal inlets along coastal barriers, especially those changes caused by storms and climate change. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Coastal Research, as well as a number of professional societies, including the Geological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, the Estuarine Research Federation, and the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.

He was invited to serve on a national panel to assess the state of the science for assessing and mapping coastal hazards through the United States Geologic Survey's Coastal & Marine Geology Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climate Data Center. Most recently, he served as chair of a national technical-review team that evaluated NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility's new Shoreline Restoration and Infrastructure Protection Program.