According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, 80% of the rescues made by ocean lifeguards involve saving swimmers caught in rip currents. These strong currents are not only dangerous to swimmers, but they also can have serious impacts on coastal erosion.
On Thursday, May 14, at 7:00 p.m. at the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS) in Lewes, Professor Robert Dalrymple will present a public lecture highlighting recent discoveries about rip currents and their formation. In addition to explaining what role these strong currents play in coastal erosion, he’ll review how beachgoers can recognize and escape rip currents. His presentation, “Breaking Waves and the Currents They Generate,” is part of the “Ocean Currents Lecture Series” recently initiated by CMS in honor of the International Year of the Ocean.
For the past 25 years, Dalrymple, who directs the University’s Center for Applied Coastal Research on the Newark campus, has studied wave mechanics, nearshore hydrodynamics, and coastal erosion using such sophisticated devices as a 66-foot-long, 66-foot-wide directional wave basin that can generate waves from many different directions, simulating a real sea. With the help of this apparatus and several smaller wave tanks located at the University’s Newark campus, Dalrymple and his colleagues are developing three-dimensional computer models that can predict the waves and currents at the shoreline. This research is the first step in developing a comprehensive coastal erosion model for predicting the evolution of beaches. This information is crucial to Delaware and other coastal states where the shoreside population is growing steadily, and the health of beaches is critical to the health of the economy.
“Sediment motion along the shoreline is caused by wave-induced currents, such as longshore currents, rip currents, and undertow,” Dalrymple says. “At the University, we have been studying these currents for some time. In my lecture, I’ll focus on recent discoveries about rip currents and undertow, which have come about in large part because we were looking in the right place at the right time.”
Dalrymple’s lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the University’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat for Dalrymple’s presentation, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279. To visit Professor Dalrymple’s Web page, see “Faculty” at www.coastal.udel.edu. For more information about CMS, visit the college’s Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu.