The Coastal Engineering Wave Lab (CEWL) is designed to accommodate up to a 24-m long open-channel wave flume with up to 1.5 m water depth and 1.5 m flume width. Such a large space is required to adequately scale the physics associated with real-world water wave motion and natural sand particles, which are 2.65 times more dense than water.

The new wave lab research facilities will enable coastal and ocean engineering studies of real-world problems involving waves and/or the transport of sand, such as the naturally occurring beach erosion-recovery cycles on barrier islands. Other potential areas of research to be enabled by the wave lab include wave-structure interaction (e.g., hurricane storm surge or tsunami impact on coastal infrastructure), testing novel coastal protection strategies, evaluation of wave energy converter devices, and development of precision oceanographic instrumentation.

The new wave lab will also enhance hands-on laboratory courses as part of the Coastal Engineering Bachelor’s degree program at UNCW.