Screen capture from Beach-fx


Coastal managers considering shore protection projects can work with civil engineers to model and measure the potential costs and benefits of protecting existing infrastructure against erosion. Using Beach-fx to generate a realistic model requires substantial data development and analysis. Training is typically required.

As part of its civil works mission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of federally-authorized shore protection projects. To solve the complex problem of modeling and measuring the costs and benefits of protecting existing infrastructure against erosion, inundation, and wave attack damages, researchers at the USACE ERDC Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory and the Institute for Water Resources created Beach-fx.

Predicts accurate storm damage potential

Beach-fx is a comprehensive innovative analytical framework for more accurately evaluating the physical performance and economic benefits and costs of shore protection projects. The Beach-fx modeling software, which runs on desktop computers, employs an event-based Monte Carlo life cycle simulation. Past approaches to storm damage estimation and shore protection benefits have typically relied on a frequency-based evaluation framework. Beach-fx uses an event-driven approach, Geographic Information System (GIS) framework, and a database of plausible storms which:

  • Evaluates shoreline changes and economic consequences
  • Categorizes three damage drivers: inundation, wave attack, and erosion
  • Tracks individual damage drivers to allow for evaluation of alternative plans and responses
  • Illustrates shoreline changes and resulting damages graphically
  • Facilitates evaluation and communication of findings

The analyses that Beach-fx makes are a combination of meteorology, coastal engineering, and economic evaluations that trigger an action based on the occurrence of previous events. As a data-driven transparent model, its technical framework incorporates:

  • Inherent risk and uncertainty associated with shore protection
  • Represented coastal processes
  • Combination of engineering and economic behavior

Beach-fx predicts morphology evolution and the associated damages caused by coastal storm events. The system also predicts the costs of shore protection alternatives with risk and uncertainty over multiple project life cycles.

Performs accurate cost evaluation and project evolution

Beach-fx incorporates the best current practicable knowledge on coastal processes to perform economic evaluations of storm damage reduction projects. Beach-fx produces not only point estimates and averages, but it also predicts the ranges and distributions of behavior that may be expected to occur. The system links the predictive capability of coastal evolution models with project area infrastructure information (structure inventory), structural damage functions, and economic valuations to estimate the costs and benefits of alternative project designs. This enables Beach-fx to provide a more realistic treatment of shore protection project evolution and optimize commonly applied approaches, including:

  • User-populated databases that describe the coastal area under study
  • Suite of historically-based plausible storm events (environmental forcing) that can impact the area
  • Inventory of infrastructure that can be damaged
  • Estimates of morphology response to each storm in the plausible storm suite
  • Damage-driving parameters for erosion, inundation, and wave impact damages
Last modified: 
5 January 2017 - 3:31pm