ECU engineering researchers install temperature system at Coastal Studies Institute

ECU engineering student Wyatt Jones installs a temperature monitoring mast on a weather station at the Coastal Studies Institute. (Contributed photo)

A team of East Carolina University researchers has completed installation of a new air temperature profile monitoring system on two sites at the Coastal Studies Institute at ECU’s Outer Banks campus in Wanchese.

The system will support research funded by the Office of Naval Research that seeks to better understand how near-surface meteorological conditions affect how sound travels over long distances near shore. Dr. Teresa Ryan, associate professor and director of engineering research in the ECU Department of Engineering, received a $370,000 grant in 2019, continuing research from a similar project in collaboration with The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The goal of the research is to help improve a numeric model that will inform commanders of an operation how close a ship can get to an enemy shoreline without being heard based on the atmospheric and sea conditions.

Ryan, Jeff Foeller, senior engineering teaching instructor at ECU, and Dr. Andrea Vecchiotti, from The Catholic University of America, as well as ECU engineering students are spending the summer in Wanchese in support of the project.

The air temperature profile monitoring system includes a 7-meter mast with temperature logging sensors that are mounted at 1-meter intervals of elevation. The sensors record air temperature every minute around the clock. Temperature is just one factor in tracking how sound travels.

One mast is positioned in a stand of marsh grass affixed to the research walkway at the Outer Banks campus, while the second is mounted to the weather station in the sound adjacent to campus.

ECU mechanical engineering master’s student Matthew Stengrim will be using the new temperature logging capability for his thesis project.