Wind tunnel tests Jersey Shore sand, grasses for dune strength

WARETOWN — Inside an old vo-tech garage tucked deep in the New Jersey Pinelands is a Willy Wonka-esque contraption of plywood, plexiglass, and a few high-tech components that may help engineers understand just how coastal dunes – and the dune grass upon them – are built up over time so they can withstand the erosion of the howling winds and waves that rattle the Jersey Shore during ferocious storms.

Here in a building once used for boat storage at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School on Wells Mill Road is the brainchild of researcher Bianca Charbonneau: a 31-foot-long wind tunnel built to test how coastal plants such as American beachgrass and other species build coastal dunes over time.

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