Seim's research focuses on understanding the processes that control the circulation and water mass structure of estuaries and the coastal ocean and the meteorology over the coastal ocean. The principal tools used in his research are observational studies. His general areas of interest include ocean observing systems, turbulence and mixing processes, internal hydraulics, estuarine subtidal and tidal dynamics, shelf dynamics, high-frequency acoustics, boundary-layer meteorology, marine spatial planning.
His most recent project is "Processes controlling Exchange At Cape Hatteras (PEACH)," an NSF-funded project (April 2016-March 2020) in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, North Carolina State University and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography/University of Georgia. The project will deploy moorings and gliders, operate coastal ocean mapping radars and run numerical models to study interactions between the Gulf Stream and the coastal waters off North Carolina near Cape Hatteras.
Areas of Expertise (4)
University of Washington: Ph.D., Oceanography 1993
University of South Carolina: M.S., Geology 1985
University of South Carolina: B.S., Marine Sciences 1981
- Member Joint Analysis Group Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response (2010-2013)
- Editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research–Oceans (2009-2012)
Media Appearances (6)
Scientists trying to harness immense power of Gulf Stream off Hatteras
The Virginian-Pilot print
Scientists are working on harnessing energy from the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras, N.C., where the ocean flows with more power than all of the world’s rivers combined.
Gulf Stream currents might have more potential than offshore wind. Ocean currents move more slowly than wind but are about 800 times more dense, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Water flowing at 12 mph exerts the same force as a 110 mph wind.
Recognizing North Carolina’s wind-energy potential
The News & Observer online
Earlier this summer, the online retailer Amazon announced its plans for a large-scale wind energy facility in northeastern North Carolina. The $400 million project will include 104 wind turbines and generate the equivalent of electricity needed to power 61,000 homes annually. The project expects to be operational in late 2016 and represents the first of its kind in the state and the South...
Potential for Disaster: Our Coast at Risk
Coastal Review Online online
On April 20, 2010, a cascading series of errors resulted in the largest oil disaster in history.
The Deepwater Horizon, a British Petroleum well 50 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico in 5,000 feet of water, exploded and began discharging oil. ...
Harvey Seim, chairman of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a man who was on the Deepwater Horizon response team, said that the 50-mile buffer offers some protection from potential problems if a disaster were to happen north of Cape Hatteras, in the area believed most likely to hold commercially significant undersea oil and gas deposits.
Scientists map sea floor off NC for potential wind energy
The Charlotte Observer online
North Carolina coastal scientists are involved in multiple projects exploring whether our coast is a good site for wind energy development. Researchers at UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences deployed two buoys between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras this spring. Harvey Seim, a professor of marine sciences, said the buoys will collect information on water and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic for one year: “The intent here is to take a closer look at what the offshore wind energy resource is like and to carefully document its structure to help where and where not to consider deployment of offshore wind turbines.”...
Local Scientists Explore Wind Energy Development
Public Radio East online
This spring, North Carolina coastal scientists are involved in multiple projects exploring whether our coast is a good site for wind energy development. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences deployed two buoys between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras. Professor of Marine Sciences Harvey Seim says the buoys will collect information on water and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic for one year...
NC Scientists Study Offshore Wind Energy Potential
Public Radio East online
It was the winds of coastal North Carolina that propelled Orville and Wilbur Wright to first in flight more than 110 years ago. Soon, scientists will launch a one year study to determine if those same coastal winds can be used to power homes and businesses. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will deploy two – 3,000 lb. buoys to collect information on water and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic. Professor of Marine Sciences Harvey Seim says they’ll use the information to help identify viable lease block locations for offshore wind farms...
Event Appearances (4)
Observations of the Surface Circulation over the Mid Atlantic Bight Continental Shelf
Ocean Sciences Meeting New Orleans
Observation and regional model based Gulf Stream marine hydrokinetic energy resource estimates for North Carolina
MTS/IEEE Oceans 2015 Genova, Italy
Impact of atmospheric stability on wind resource estimates off North Carolina
Oceans 2012 Hampton Roads, VA
Coastal wind, energy for North Carolina’s future
Public briefing of UNC Wind Feasibility Study Hatteras Village, NC
As part of ongoing studies of the feasibility of utility-scale wind energy off the shore of North Carolina, winds at 80-m elevation are estimated with a stability-based height-adjustment scheme. Data sources are level-3 daily Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) 10-m wind fields as measured by the MetOp-A satellite, North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) estimates of near-surface atmospheric temperature and humidity, and the National Climatic Data Center’s optimally interpolated Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR-OI) sea surface temperature (SST). A height-adjustment assuming neutral atmospheric stability provides reference conditions.
North Carolina and Florida are likely the only two states on the US east coast that have practical access to energy extraction from the Gulf Stream. After leaving the Florida Straits, the Gulf Stream in the region offshore of Cape Hatteras, NC exhibits the least variability in position of any location on the east coast, while simultaneously being closest to land.
A probabilistic rip current forecast model is created using a logistic regression formulation. Given input variables of nearshore significant wave height, vector mean wave direction, tidal elevation, and whether the forecast occurs in a 72-hour postwave event window, the probabilistic model predicts the likelihood of hazardous rip current occurrence...
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARCOOS) High-Frequency Radar Network, which comprises 13 long-range sites, 2 medium-range sites, and 12 standard-range sites, is operated as part of the Integrated Ocean Observing System. This regional implementation of the network has been operational for 2 years and has matured to the point where the radars provide consistent coverage from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras. A concerted effort was made in the MARCOOS project to increase the resiliency of the radar stations from the elements, power issues, and other issues that can disable the hardware of the system...