Posts Tagged ‘Jekyll Island’

UGA Skidaway Institute’s Alexander honored by coastal environmental group

January 5, 2017

University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography Interim Executive Director Clark Alexander has been honored by the coastal environmental group One Hundred Miles as one of the group’s One Hundred Miles 100. The list is the first recognition of its kind to honor 100 individuals and organizations for their efforts to support the health, vitality and future of Georgia’s 100-mile coastline. Alexander was selected within the Researchers and Innovators category.

Alexander, a coastal geologist, was cited for his research efforts, which he began on the Georgia coast in 1989 when he first joined UGA Skidaway Institute. He was also cited by the environmental group for helping to advance the work of institutions across the coast. Alexander served on the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve Advisory Board, the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, and the Georgia Coastal Marshlands and Shore Protection Committees.clark-alexander-10-w

“Day in and day out, Clark advances our understanding of critical issues facing Georgia’s coast, including barrier island erosion patterns and the effects of climate change on marsh habitats,” his citation reads.

“Georgia’s coast is extremely fortunate to be under the stewardship of these exceptional leaders, conservationists and individuals who recognize its incomparable character and beauty and the essential role it plays in the well-being of our state,” said Catherine Ridley, vice president of education and communications at One Hundred Miles.

Alexander and the other honorees will be recognized with a reception immediately following the One Hundred Miles’ Coastal Conservation in Action: Choosing to Lead Conference on Saturday, Jan. 7, on Jekyll Island.

A full list of honorees is available at

UGA Skidaway Institute researchers study sand resources near the Georgia coast

January 7, 2016

If a hurricane hits the Georgia coast, a major priority for coastal communities will be finding sand to rebuild beaches destroyed by erosion. University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientist Clark Alexander has received funding approval from Georgia Sea Grant for a two-year study to collect and analyze new, high-resolution data to identify the sand resources available near the Georgia coast.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars in damages to communities along the east coast of the U.S. Coastal communities in Georgia are vulnerable to future storms, and some have begun to develop strategies to increase their resilience to such storms and to speed their recovery from one. When it comes to restoring storm-eroded beaches, those communities will require a detailed understanding of the locations and characteristics of the available sand resources they will need.

Beaches like Glory Beach on Jekyll Island may potentially benefit from the sand resource study.  Photo Credit:

Beaches like Glory Beach on Jekyll Island may potentially benefit from the sand resource study.
Photo Credit:

“Sand resources are needed to rebuild beach and dune systems to provide the same or better levels of protection to lives and property,” Alexander said. “These sand resources data are critically needed in Georgia, as the sand resources in our state waters are the most poorly known of all the states along the East Coast.”

The study will focus on three developed barrier islands that have not been renourished — Sea Island, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. The project will gather new samples and data on seabed sediment texture and composition from the beach out to the state-waters boundary, three nautical miles offshore. The researchers will merge that data with existing samples from the beaches and the sea bed and integrate all the samples to determine where sand deposits are located that would be suitable for beach renourishment.

“Typically, we find a wide range of sand, and not all of it is beach-quality,” Alexander said. “We need to locate sand deposits that have similar size and composition to the natural beach.”

The team will collect beach grain size samples during both the summer and winter to assess the differences in texture and composition in the beach in response to changing storm, tide and wave conditions.

The sea floor in the study region has not been comprehensively surveyed since the 1930s. Another part of the project will be to use an echosounder to collect data on the depth and morphology of the sea bed. This data will be used to create bathymetric maps of the ocean bottom. These maps will also identify regions of thicker sand deposits, which indicate greater volumes of sand.

The researchers will then combine the new information with existing data in a Geographic Information System tool to integrate the sand resource and bathymetry information and model the extent of beach-quality deposits in the Sea Island to Jekyll Island region.

The results of the project will be made available online to government officials, the management community and the general public on a number of Web sites, including the Georgia Coastal Hazards Portal ( developed by Alexander.

Georgia Sea Grant is a unit of the UGA Office of Public Service and Outreach.

Skidaway Institute expands coastal radar system

February 19, 2010

The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is expanding its coastal radar system with the addition of a new send-receive station on Jekyll Island. The radar system, called WERA, is used to study surface ocean currents on Georgia’s continental shelf and out as far as the Gulf Stream.

Research coordinator Trent Moore works on a radar antenna in the dunes on Jekyll Island.

The Jekyll Island unit is the third station in the system. Two original stations were installed on Pritchard Island, S.C. and on a coastal island south of Savannah. The three systems work together to create a detailed map of surface ocean currents across an area stretching more than 125 miles off shore from South Carolina to North Florida. The map consists of hundreds of data points on the ocean surface which are updated twice an hour. The map shows the speed and direction of the surface current at each of those points.

The equipment was purchased with a grant from the Georgia Research Alliance, combined with funding allocated by South East Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System.

“Measurement of surface currents and waves has a broad range of economic, societal, research and educational applications,” said Skidaway Institute professor Dana Savidge.

Those include search and rescue operations; tracking and predicting the trajectories of oil spills and pollutants; maritime operations; commercial and recreational fishing and boating; ecosystem assessment; and improving our understanding of the response of the coastal ocean circulation to major winter storms or hurricanes.

Aside from the practical applications, Savidge says the primary purpose of the system is to improve researchers’ understanding of what is happening on Georgia’s continental shelf.

“The ocean continues to be very poorly observed,” she said. “For example, we do not know how material from the land crosses the shelf. It may be organic. It may be manmade. It may be pollutants. Where does it go and how does it get there? These measurements will help us find out.”

The new site will significantly increase Savidge’s ability to study eddies that develop at the juncture of the shelf edge and the Gulf Stream. These eddies may affect the supply of nutrients available to marine life in that area of the ocean.

The radar data can been seen as a map, with the color, length and direction of the arrows showing the velocity of the surface currents. The orange and yellow arrows on the bottom right indicate the Gulf Stream.

There are presently approximately 100 similar radars operating throughout United States. The installation on Jekyll Island will greatly increase coverage to include the entire Georgia shelf and northern Florida. It will add critical overlapping redundancy with existing installations, providing essential two-installation operation during periods when one installation of the three may go down due to lightening strikes, power outages or other problems.

The new radar system is located at the Villas by the Sea condominiums on the north end of Jekyll Island.

“We can’t say enough about how great the folks at Villas by the Sea have been to work with us on this and allow us to install our antennas there,” said Savidge.

Savidge also praised research coordinator Trent Moore who she said, “has shouldered a very long term commitment and wrestled this thing through multiple stages, none of which are shy of endless details and physical efforts.” Skidaway staffers Jay Fripp and Harry Carter also contributed to the project.

Data from the radar system can be seen at the Skidaway Institute Web site.