UNCW Researchers Analyze Rip Currents on Carolina Coast

Friday, July 25, 2014

UNCW researchers are leading efforts to better understand rip currents on America’s East Coast beaches.

Spencer Rogers, from North Carolina Sea Grant, and UNCW graduate student Cobi Christiansen are members of a rip current research team that includes Rob “Dr. Rip” Brander, a coastal geomorphologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Based at the Sea Grant office at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science, the team deploys data-logging drifters to document the velocity, circulation and ejection frequency of rip currents. Initial testing has been conducted at Carolina Beach, and the team plans to deploy drifters at Wrightsville Beach in early August. The crew is also on call to respond to rip current reports from lifeguards at New Hanover County beaches.

Rogers is on a national rip current task force that includes members from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Lifesaving Association. The group has developed a national awareness campaign to help swimmers better respond to rip current situations.

“If people know what to do if they are caught in a rip current, they are more likely to protect themselves and continue to have a good day at the beach,” Rogers notes.

For more on North Carolina Sea Grant’s work and research -