Kathryn Ross, University of Montana


Class Year:



Victoria Coles, Ph.D.

Project Title:

Development and Use of Low-Cost NanoDrifters to Characterize Near Shore Surface Flow


Shoreline flow is challenging to measure and model due to its complexity and high potential for turbulence, requiring more datapoints to get satisfactory resolution. NanoDrifters are small low-cost drifters designed to be deployed in large numbers in shallow regions to characterize these complex flows. The technology and deployment techniques of these drifters were optimized over the course of three different deployments along the Choptank River: one off Todd’s Point, one in Horn Point Cove, and one at a living shoreline in Hurst Creek. The data acquired from these deployments showed that oyster castles reduced the flow of water and caused looping motion of flows which move along them, an effect which continues to a lesser extent post interaction. Flows were found to be faster at near maximum outflow than at slack tide in tidal inlets, and the mean speeds of these flows were much higher than their displacement as a result of the looping motion. The drifters were also found to be useful to create a rudimentary map of flows within a region. These results indicate that the drifters are useful for analyzing such motion, though they were found to experience noticeable slippage from wind and stokes drift. Future models of the NanoDrifter should incorporate a greater subsurface area to mitigate this effect.


Horn Point Laboratory

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