Northeast Region, Climate Adaptation Program: Tide gauge analysis to support climate adaptation decisions for Northeast coastal parks

NPS Unit: Northeast Region, Climate Adaptation Program
Location: Narragansett, RI
Project Title:   Tide gauge analysis to support climate adaptation decisions for Northeast coastal parks
Pay: Interns will be paid $12/hour for a total of 480 hours.
Position Description: Long term tide gauges are essential to understanding local sea level rise and to support climate adaptation. Many coastal Northeast Region parks rely on NOAA’s National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON), but there are gaps in coverage for part or all of some parks; some parks or partners have installed short term or low-tech alternatives, some work with insufficient information. The intern would analyze historic tide gauge data coverage for 10 Northeast Region coastal parks to identify where improved tide gauge coverage will best aid climate adaptation. The analysis results will be used to prioritize how to fill the most important gaps. The analysis also has the opportunity to make existing coverage more useful for climate adaptation by identifying where modeling can fill gaps.Additionally, this project would work with parks to connect the tide gauge information to local decisions by assessing which tidal exceedances are indicators of high inundation risk at vulnerable park locations. High accuracy elevation data for park “sentinel sites” of important natural resources, cultural resources and infrastructure is being collected. The student would develop tidal inundation frequency relationships between key sentinel sites with available tide gauge data. The intern will have the opportunity to visit nearby park units to assess sites and share results with park staff. The student will be expected to share results through a written report, a database and a seminar presentation.
Learning goals: As a regional project, the student will learn about issues affecting a range of coastal parks, each with different sea level rise impacts. This project will provide a research experience for a student interested in applying technical skills to support park management. The intern will learn about:

  • information needs related to sea level rise and park flooding
  • physical oceanographic methods required for tidal analysis
  • sea level rise monitoring and technology
  • tidal datums
  • geodetic techniques
  • coastal climate adaptation strategies

The student will gain experience with technical writing, data presentation methods and mapping.

Mentoring: The NER Coastal Climate Adaptation Coordinator will develop the methods and data needs and provide regular guidance and oversight throughout the internship. She will introduce the intern to resource managers at nearby coastal parks and coordinate park visits. URI based NPS staff and collaborators will provide additional methods guidance and share information on relevant programs. There is the opportunity to interact with the URI SURFO (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography) program and participate in their orientation, seminar series and social events.
Qualifications: Major in: Oceanography, physics, math, engineering, environmental science or related field.  Additional coursework preferred in: Statistics, Geography or GISStudents who have completed their junior year of undergraduate education or early graduate students are preferred.
Position Dates: Flexible, but recommended to overlap with the dates of the SURFO program June 3-August 9.
Housing Available: Nearby housing with other interns is potentially available through the SURFO program. Housing in the dorms on the main campus (7 miles away) is available through Aug. 18 at a cost of $1025/5 week summer session.  There is bus service between the main campus and the bay campus.
Vehicle/License Required: Not required, but a vehicle will provide flexibility in which parks can be visited and housing arrangements.
Work Environment: The position is at the University of Rhode Island where NPS Northeast Region science programs including the North Atlantic Coast Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network Inventory and Monitoring Program and the GIS Field Technical Support Center are based.  It is an academic office environment at the URI Bay Campus. Travel to nearby coastal parks will be supported.