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The Field Research Facility in northern Duck is known for its 1840 foot long pier and its internationally recognized research. It’s mission is “Advancing coastal knowledge through observation and discovery.”
Established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1977, FRF is part of the Field Data Collection and Analysis Branch headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Along with the pier, also essential to FRF’s operation are instruments that regularly record the changing waves, winds, tides, and currents and specialized vehicles like the unique, three-wheeled “CRAB.” Though it appears top-heavy, this 35-foot tripod with a wide base and liquid-filled tires is able to operate “in all but the most severe storms,” says FRF.
The observatory’s ongoing projects include studies to improve emergency response to cyclones, a coastal flood hazard analysis for FEMA and nearshore ocean depth (bathymetry) surveys, unmatched worldwide in their accuracy and coverage. Particularly important to the Outer Banks is new FRF technology that will help researchers better predict how hurricanes and nor’easters change our beaches.
FRF encourages the use of its facilities and data by other government agencies, universities and private companies throughout the year.
A visit to FRF’s homepage will give you more info on its operations, as well as daily stats on weather, water temperature, waves and warnings on any current coastal hazards. The facility is closed to the public.