Marine Science Faculty Publications

Ship Wakes and their Potential Shoreline Impact in Tampa Bay

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Ship wakes, Coastal erosion, Maritime, Estuary, Automatic identification system

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Ship wakes generated by vessels moving through ecologically sensitive areas, or near poorly-protected infrastructure, can negatively impact these systems. This is especially true in regions hosting large seaports. Ship wakes in Tampa Bay, Florida, were calculated during two time periods using vessel movement data reported through the Automatic Identification System (AIS). The first period was for the years 2015–2017 using data from a government database. The second was during part of 2018 obtained by local monitoring. Only vessels operating at low Froude numbers were examined. Wake heights were estimated from each AIS record using an empirical equation and partitioned by functional vessel class. The largest estimated wakes were produced by the Passenger class. Cargo class vessels had the largest number of ships estimated to produce high wakes. Egmont Key, a long-eroding barrier island at the mouth of the Bay, was potentially subjected to the highest number of ship wakes and the highest cumulative wake energy. Differences in vessel representation in the two sets of AIS data yielded different distributions of wake energy by vessel class. Some strategies for managing wake energy are discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Ocean & Coastal Management, v. 211, art.105749