Natural Infrastructure for Flood Mitigation in a Changing Climate

2018 Faculty Research Award

Award Period: 2018-2020


This project led by PEI associated faculty members Ning Lin, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Guy Nordenson, professor of architecture, will bring together engineers and architects to develop nature-based strategies for enhancing flood prevention and protection for coastal regions under present and future climate conditions. The researchers, which include associate research scholar Reza Marsooli in civil and environmental engineering, will use Jamaica Bay, New York, to study how to integrate natural ecosystems — specifically wetlands — and built infrastructures to effectively protect coastal cities imperiled by rapid population growth, sea-level rise and stronger (and, possibly, more frequent) storms.The researchers will apply the ADvanced CIRCulation Model (ADCIRC) — widely used by industry, academics and government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — to simulate coastal flooding and the influence of wetlands. The researchers will then run numerical experiments to test the flood-mitigation ability of wetlands alone and when combined with built structures such as seawalls and levees. The resulting computational tools and framework will be expanded to other coastal regions across the nation and worldwide so that engineers, architects, policymakers and coastal managers can develop sustainable flood-mitigation strategies for coastal cities.

Educational Impacts

The researchers will introduce a new undergraduate course, “Coastal Flood Hazards and Mitigation by Design in a Changing Climate,” in civil and environmental engineering and the School of Architecture. Students will learn about the influence of climate change on coastal flooding, natural flood-mitigation design, and how to develop computational models of flooding and flood prevention. Class participants will be assigned a team project to apply ADCIRC to Jamaica Bay in order to quantify the value of wetlands for flood mitigation under different storm scenarios. Students will be encouraged to expand their team project into their senior thesis or independent project. The course may become a key component of the proposed Princeton Program in Climate Adaptation Planning and Policy (CAPP).

Participating Department

Related Media


Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Architecture
Associate Research Scholar, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Associates