James Hench

James Hench

Associate Professor of Oceanography

Secondary Appointment

Research in my lab focuses on fluid dynamics in the coastal ocean and its effects on transport processes. We use field measurements, computational models, and theoretical analyses to understand fundamental physical processes in these systems. We also work extensively on interdisciplinary problems that have a significant physical component to better understand the effects of water motion on the geochemistry, biology, and ecology of shallow marine systems. 

Much of our research is on coral reef hydrodynamics and our lab leads the Physical Oceanographic component of the Moorea Coral Reef LTER project 

Current projects include: 1) wave-driven circulation and exchange in coral reef, lagoon, and pass systems; 2) extreme events and their effects on coral reef systems; 3) understanding the effects of rough bottoms such as corals on circulation and scalar mixing; 4) the impact of stratification on vertical mixing in a highly stratified wind-driven estuary; 5) larval transport around a coral reef island; 6) sponge excurrents; and 7) the effects of wave forcing on corallivory. 

In The News


Collin, A, Hench, JL, Pastol, Y, Planes, S, Thiault, L, Schmitt, RJ, Holbrook, SJ, Davies, N, and Troyer, M. "High resolution topobathymetry using a Pleiades-1 triplet: Moorea Island in 3D (Accepted)." Remote Sensing of Environment 208 (April 1, 2018): 109-119.
Sridharan, VK, Monismith, SG, Fong, DA, and Hench, JL. "One-dimensional particle tracking with streamline preserving junctions for flows in channel networks." Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 144, no. 2 (February 1, 2018).
Herdman, LMM, Hench, JL, Fringer, O, and Monismith, SG. "Behavior of a wave-driven buoyant surface jet on a coral reef." Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 122, no. 5 (May 2017): 4088-4109.
Casella, E, Collin, A, Harris, D, Ferse, S, Bejarano, S, Parravicini, V, Hench, JL, and Rovere, A. "Mapping coral reefs using consumer-grade drones and structure from motion photogrammetry techniques." Coral Reefs 36, no. 1 (March 2017): 269-275.
Knee, KL, Crook, ED, Hench, JL, Leichter, JJ, and Paytan, A. "Assessment of Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) as a Source of Dissolved Radium and Nutrients to Moorea (French Polynesia) Coastal Waters." Estuaries and Coasts 39, no. 6 (November 2016): 1651-1668.

Recent Grants


ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects (ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects)
ENVIRON 770A: Introduction to Physical Oceanography (ENVIRON 770A: Introduction to Physical Oceanography)
ENVIRON 476A: Data and Time Series Analysis in Marine Sciences (ENVIRON 476A: Data and Time Series Analysis in Marine Sciences)
ENVIRON 876A: Data and Time Series Analysis in Marine Sciences (ENVIRON 876A: Data and Time Series Analysis in Marine Sciences)
EOS 393A: Research Independent Study (EOS 393A: Research Independent Study)

Contact Information

135 Duke Marine Lab Rd
Beaufort, NC 28516


Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2002)
M.S., Stanford University (1992)
B.S., North Carolina State University (1991)