Mapping storm surges

Undergrad focused on coastal engineering
Undergraduate engineering researchers Kyah Lucky and Dylan Schlichting monitor buoys in Bar Harbor. Photo by Holland Haverkamp

Mapping storm surges

Undergrad focused on coastal engineering

Kyah Lucky’s great-grandfather was an underwater explorer who wrote books about his discoveries in the deep sea.

She moved 13 times across the United States, living in California, Washington and Idaho before coming to the University of Maine.

Now a fourth-year undergraduate student in civil and environmental engineering, Lucky is a research assistant focused on coastal engineering. In particular, she is involved in research funded by the National Science Foundation and the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) that seeks to understand how storm surge impacts coastal Maine.

Lucky and a team of faculty and graduate students are creating storm surge maps of three Maine estuaries: Penobscot, Bagaduce and Bass Harbor.

Lucky is assessing how different physical estuary properties affect the storm surge.

“One physical property, in particular, is the geometry of the estuaries,” says Lucky. “For example, the Penobscot is funnel-shaped.”

This past winter, she collaborated with citizen scientists deploying and monitoring buoys equipped with sensors to measure water levels and weather parameters. Among their challenges: instruments frozen in the ice.

“I’ve always loved the water,” says Lucky, who has accepted a position as environmental engineer at CDM Smith in Hartford, Connecticut. “This project involves being on the boat and doing data analysis. Coastal engineering — the whole aspect of solving problems, designing equipment, learning about this technology — is really something I want to do.”

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