Ryan Mulligan PhD

Professor; Associate Head; Director, Beaty Water Research Centre (BWRC)

Faculty, Civil Engineering
Phone: 613-533-6503
Fax: 613-533-2128
Ellis Hall, Room: 251 B


Expertise: Coastal engineering and physical oceanography, surface waves, nearshore currents, sediment resuspension and transport, wave and circulation models, tidal currents and marine renewable energy, coastal morphology, dynamics of flows along beaches, river deltas, in bays, estuaries and lakes
Ryan Mulligan
Biography Research Teaching Publications Awards & Grants

I am a coastal engineer and oceanographer, with interests in the physical forces that cause changes to coastal regions and the ways in which coastal systems respond.  Coastal processes act over a range in time scales from seconds (like surface waves) to hundreds of years (like sea level rise), but often it is timescales of days (like hurricanes and storm events) over which major changes such as erosion occurs that affect human populations.  Coastal processes can also act over a wide range of spatial scales from sub-millimetre scale (like fluid turbulence) to thousands of kilometres (like tsunamis) and it is important to understand the interaction of many different processes to simulate and predict future changes to the coastal environment.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) - Oceanography

Dalhousie University, Halifax NS, Canada

Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc) - Civil Engineering

University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada

Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc) - Geological Engineering

Queen's University, Kingston ON, Canada


Editorial Board

Editor, Journal Of Geophysical Research Oceans https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/21699291

I am particularly interested in surface waves, ocean currents, transport of water and sediments and contaminants, and changes in the geomorphology of the coastline and seabed. I use field observations and numerical models to study coastal systems, and develop further understanding of the processes that affect oceans, estuaries and rivers. I am particularly interested in coastal regions that are exposed to severe storms including hurricanes, with large waves and strong currents, and understanding coastal erosion and flooding.


I am also interested in marine renewable energy, and impacts on the marine environment. Specifically this relates to marine tidal current turbines (e.g., in the Bay of Fundy) and offshore wind turbines (e.g., in Lake Ontario).
Current research sites:
  • Physical modelling of tsunamis, waves, dune erosion in the Coastal Engineering Lab at Queen's.
  • The Great Lakes, including Lake Ontario and Lake Erie
  • Coastal bays and estuaries in Nova Scotia, Canada, including the Bay of Fundy
  • The Salish Sea, including the Strait of Georgia, in British Columbia
  • US Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility, Duck, North Carolina
  • Beaches, barrier islands and estuaries in North Carolina, USA.
  • Coral Reefs in Moloka’i, Hawai’i


  • CIVL 853: Water Waves
  • CIVL 855: Hydrodynamics of Coasts and Estuaries
  • CIVL 895: Special Topics in Civil Engineering


  • CIVL 451: Lake, Reservoir and Coastal Engineering
  • CIVL 360: Civil Engineering Design and Practice III
  • CIVL 350: Hydraulics II
  • CIVL 500: Civil Engineering Thesis



Refereed Publications

GOOGLE SCHOLAR https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=6-QUjz8AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao


George, D.A., Mulligan, R.P. and Castelle, B., 2022. Crossing the boundaries how key advancements in understanding of headland sediment bypassing improves definition of littoral cells. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, p.e2021JC018269.

Marmoush, R.Y. and Mulligan, R.P., 2022. An Experimental Investigation of Alongshore Wave Momentum Transfer to Nearshore Flows in the Outer Surf Zone of a Steep Sand Beach, Estuaries and Coasts, 1-18.

Manchia, C.M. and Mulligan, R.P., 2022. Hurricane wind-driven surface waves on a narrow continental shelf and exposed coast. Continental Shelf Research, 237, p.104681.

Zuchuat, V., Steel, E., Mulligan, R.P., Collins, D.S. and Green, J.M., 2022. Tidal dynamics in palaeo‐seas in response to changes in physiography, tidal forcing and bed shear stress. Sedimentology.

McLaughlin, C., Law., B.A. and Mulligan, R.P., 2022. Modelling surface waves and tide-surge interactions leading to enhanced total water levels in a macrotidal bay, Coastal Engineering Journal, 10.1080/21664250.2021.1965417.


Marmoush, R.Y. and Mulligan, R.P., 2021 Non-hydrostatic modelling of alongshore variability in waves and wave-driven currents during the morphodynamic change of a laboratory beach. Coastal Engineering, 167, 103913.

Franz, M., Jaboyedoff, M., Mulligan, R.P., Podladchikov, Y. and Take, W.A., 2021 An efficient two-layer landslide-tsunami numerical model: effects of momentum transfer validated with physical experiments of waves generated by granular landslides. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 21, 1229-1245.

Trinaistich, W.C., Mulligan, R.P. and Take, W.A., 2021. Runup of landslide-generated waves breaking on steep slopes captured using digital imagery and hydrochromic paint. Coastal Engineering, 166, p.103888.

Rauter, M., Hoße, L., Mulligan, R.P., Take, W.A. and Løvholt, F., 2021. Numerical simulation of impulse wave generation by idealized landslides with OpenFOAM. Coastal Engineering, 165, p.103815.

Rey, A., Mulligan, R.P., da Silva, A.M.F., Filion, Y., Champagne, P., and Boegman, L., 2021b). Temperature stratification in an operational waste stabilization pond, Journal of Environmental Engineering, 147(6), 05021001.

Rey, A., and Mulligan, R.P., 2021. Influence of hurricane wind field variability on realtime forecast simulations of the coastal environment. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126(1), e2020JC016489.

Rey, A., Mulligan, R.P., da Silva, A.M.F., Filion, Y., Champagne, P., and Boegman, L., 2021a). Three-dimensional hydrodynamic behavior of an operational waste stabilization pond, Journal of Environmental Engineering, 147(2), 05020009.


Rey, A., Corbett, D.R., and Mulligan, R.P., 2020. Impacts of hurricane winds and precipitation on hydrodynamics in a backbarrier estuary, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125 (12), e2020JC016483.

Cabrera, M.A., Pinzon, G., Take, W.A. and Mulligan, R.P., 2020. Wave generation across a continuum of landslide conditions from the collapse of partially submerged to fully submerged granular columns. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125(12), p.e2020JC016465.

Mulligan, R.P., Franci, A., Celigueta, M.A. and Take, W.A., 2020. Simulations of landslide wave generation and propagation using the particle finite element method. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125(6), p.e2019JC015873.

Marmoush, R.Y. and Mulligan, R.P., 2020. A three-dimensional laboratory investigation of beach morphology change during a storm event. Geomorphology, 363, p.107224


Mulligan, R.P., Mallinson, D.J., Clunies, G.J., Rey, A., Culver, S.J., Zaremba, N., Leorri, E. and Mitra, S., 2019. Estuarine responses to long
term changes in inlets, morphology, and sea level rise. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124(12), pp.9235-9257.

Bullard, G.K., Mulligan, R.P., Carreira, A. and Take, W.A., 2019. Experimental analysis of tsunamis generated by the impact of landslides with high mobility. Coastal Engineering, p.103538. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378383918302278

Mulligan, R.P., Take, W.A. and Bullard, G.K., 2019. Non-Hydrostatic Modeling of Waves Generated by Landslides with Different Mobility. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 7(8), p.266. https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/7/8/266

Mulligan, R.P. and Perrie, W., 2019. Circulation and structure of the Mackenzie River plume in the coastal Arctic Ocean. Continental Shelf Research, 177, pp.59-68.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278434318302425

Bullard, G.K., Mulligan, R.P., and Take, W.A., 2019. An enhanced framework to quantify the shape of impulse waves using asymmetry. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2018JC014167/

Hodgkins, L., Mulligan, R.P., and Weber, K., 2019. Modelling the transport of shipborne per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the coastal environment, Science of the Total Environment, 658: 602-613, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969718350939

Mulligan, R.P., Smith, P.C., Tao, J., and Hill, P., 2019.  Wind-wave and tidally driven sediment resuspension in a macrotidal basin, Estuaries and Coasts, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12237-018-00511-z.

Mulligan, R.P., Gomes, E.R., Miselis, J., and McNinch, J., 2019. Non-hydrostatic numerical modelling of nearshore wave transformation over shore-oblique sandbars. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272771417312271.

Bennett, V.C., and Mulligan, R.P., and Hapke, C., 2018. A numerical model investigation of the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on water level variability in Great South Bay, New York. Continental Shelf Research, 1611: 1-11, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278434318300396.


Mulligan, R.P., and Take W.A., 2017. On the transfer of momentum from a granular landslide to a water wave. Coastal Engineering. 125: 16-22.

Bennett, V.C., and Mulligan, R.P., 2017. Evaluation of surface wind fields for prediction of directional ocean wave spectra during Hurricane Sandy. Coastal Engineering. 125: 1-15.

Berard, N.A., Mulligan, R.P., da Silva, A.M.F. and Dibajnia, M., 2017. Evaluation of XBeach performance for the erosion of a laboratory sand dune. Coastal Engineering. 125: 70-80.

Miller, G.S., Take, W.A., Mulligan, R.P., and McDougall, S., 2017. Tsunamis generated by long and thin granular landslides in a large flume. Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans. 122

Clunies, G., Mulligan, R.P., Mallinson, D.M., and Walsh, J.P., 2017. Modelling hydrodynamics of large lagoons: insights from the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System. Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science. 189: 90-103.

Kemp, A.C., Kegel, J.J., Culver, S.J., Barber, D.C., Mallinson, D.J., Leorri, E., Bernhardt, C.E., Cahill, N., Riggs, S.R., Woodson, A.L., Mulligan, R.P., and Horton, B.P., 2017. Extended late Holocene relative sea-level histories for North Carolina, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews. 160: 13-30.

Eulie, D.O., Walsh, J.P., Corbett, D.R., and Mulligan, R.P., 2017. Temporal and spatial dynamics of estuarine shoreline change In the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System, North Carolina, USA. Estuaries and Coasts, 40(3): 741-757.


Cooper, A.H., and Mulligan, R.P., 2016. Application of a spectral wave model to assess breakwater configurations at a small craft harbour on Lake Ontario. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. 4(3).

Gomes, E.R., Mulligan, R.P., Brodie, K.L., and McNinch, J.E., 2016. Bathymetric control on the spatial distribution of wave breaking in the surf zone of a natural beach, Coastal Engineering, 116, 180-194, doi: 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2016.06.012.

Mulligan, R.P., and J. L. Hanson, 2016. Alongshore momentum transfer to the nearshore zone from energetic ocean waves generated by passing hurricanes, Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, 121, doi: 10.1002/2016JC011706.

Zaremba, N., Mallinson, D., Leorri, E., Culver, S., Riggs, S., Mulligan, R.P., and Horsman, E., 2016. Controls on the stratigraphic record and paleoenvironmental change within a Holocene estuarine system: Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, USA. Marine Geology, 379, 109-123, doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2016.04.012.

Ashall, L. M., Mulligan, R. P., van Proosdij, D., & Poirier, E. (2016). Application and validation of a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model of a macrotidal salt marsh. Coastal Engineering114, 35-46.

Miller, R.L., Brown, M.M., and Mulligan, R.P., Transport and transformation of dissolved organic matter in the Neuse River Estuarine System, NC USA following Hurricane Irene (2011), Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, doi: 10.1071/MF15352.


Ashall, L.A., Mulligan, R.P., and Law, B.A., 2015. Variability in Suspended Sediment Concentration in the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, and Implications for Changes due to Tidal Power Extraction, Coastal Engineering, accepted.

Elko, N., Feddersen, F., Foster, D., Hapke, C., McNinch, J., Mulligan, R.P., Ӧzkan-Haller, T., Plant, N., Raubenheimer, B., (eds.) 2015. The future of nearshore processes research. J. American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, 83(1): 13-38.

Mulligan, R.P., Walsh, J.P., and Wadman, H., 2015. Storm Surge and Surface Waves in a Shallow Lagoonal Estuary during the Crossing of a Hurricane, J. Waterway, Port, Coastal, Ocean Eng., A5014001, doi:10.1061/(ASCE) WW.1943-5460.0000260.

Moran, K.L., Mallinson, D.J., Culver, S.J., Leorri, E., and Mulligan, R.P., 2015. Late Holocene evolution of Currituck Sound, North Carolina, USA: environmental change driven by sea-level rise, storms and barrier island morphology.  J. Coastal Research, 31(4) 827-841.

Tao, J., Hill, P.S., Mulligan, R.P., and Smith, P.C., 2014. Seasonal variability of total suspended matter in Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 151, 169-180, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.10.005.

McCombs, M.P., Mulligan, R.P., and Boegman, L., (2014)Offshore Wind Farm Impacts on Surface Waves and Circulation in Eastern Lake Ontario, Coastal Engineering, 93, 32-39, doi: 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2014.08.001.

McCombs, M.P., Mulligan, R.P., Boegman, L., and Rao, Y.R., (2014) Modeling surface waves and wind-driven circulation in eastern Lake Ontario during winter storms. J. Great Lakes Research, 13 pp, doi: 10.1016/j.jglr.2014.02.009.

Brown, M.M., Mulligan, R.P., and Miller, R.L., (2014) Modeling the transport of freshwater and dissolved organic carbon in the Neuse River Estuary, NC, USA following Hurricane Irene (2011), Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Sci., 139 (2014) 148-158, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.01.005.


McNinch, J.E., Brodie, K.L., Wadman, H.M., Hathaway, K.K., Slocum, R.K., Mulligan, R.P., Hanson, J.L., and Birkemeier, W.A., (2012). Observations of wave run-up, shoreline hot-spot erosion, and sound-side seiching during Hurricane Irene at the Field Research Facility, Journal of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, 80(2): 19-37.


Leorri, E., Mulligan, R.P., Mallinson, D., and Cearreta, A., (2011). Sea-level rise and local tidal range changes in coastal embayments: An added complexity in developing reliable sea-level index points, Journal of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, 11(3): 307-314.

Mulligan, R.P., Perrie, W., Toulany, B., Smith, P. Hay, A.E., and Bowen, A.J. (2011).  Performance of nowcast and forecast wave models for Lunenburg Bay, NS.  Atmosphere-Ocean, 49(1), doi:10.1080/07055900.2011.558468


Mulligan, R. P., Hay, A. E., and Bowen, A. J. (2010). A wave-driven jet over a rocky shoal.  Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, C10038, doi:10.1029/2009JC006027.

Mulligan, R.P., Perrie, W., and Solomon, S. (2010). Dynamics of the Mackenzie River plume on the inner Beaufort Shelf during an open water period in summer.  Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science (89), 214-220.


Mulligan, R.P., Hay, A.E., and Bowen, A.J. (2008).  Wave-driven circulation in a coastal bay during the landfall of a hurricane.Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, C05026, doi:10.1029/2007JC004500.

Mulligan, R.P., Bowen, A. J., Hay, A.E., van der Westhuysen, A. J., and Battjes, J.A. (2008).  Whitecapping and wave field evolution in a coastal bay. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, C03008, doi:10.1029/2007JC004382.

Book Chapters

Winter, G., Hetzel, Y., Huang, P., Hipsey, M., Mulligan R.P., and Hansen, J. (2019) Coastal processes, extreme events and forecasting. In G. Winter and E. Techara (Eds.), Marine Extremes: Ocean Safety, Marine Health and the Blue Economy, 1st Edition, Routledge/Earthscan Publishing.

Mallinson, D., Culver, S., Leorri, E., Mitra, S., Mulligan, R.P., and Riggs, S. (2018). Barrier island and estuary co-evolution in response to Holocene climate and sea- level change: Pamlico Sound and the Outer Banks Barrier Islands, North Carolina, USA.  In L. Moore and B. Murray (Eds.), Barrier dynamics and the impacts of climate change on barrier evolution. Springer Publishing.

Miller, R.L., López, R., Mulligan, R.P., Reed, R.E., Liu, C.-C., Buonassissi, C.J., and Brown, M.M., (2014)Examining material transport in dynamic coastal environments: an integrated approach using field data, remote sensing and numerical modeling.  In C.W. Finkl and C. Makowski (eds.), Remote Sensing and Modeling: Advances in Coastal and Marine Resources, Coastal Research Library 9, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-06326-3_14, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.

Leys, V. and Mulligan, R.P., (2011). Modelling coastal sediment transport for harbour planning: selected case studies, In Sediment Transport, S.S.Ginsberg (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-307-189-3, InTech.

Conference Publications

Rey, A., Mulligan, R.P., Boegman, L., Filion, Y., da Silva, A., and Champagne, P. (2018). Impact of Control Structures on Hydraulic Retention Time in Wastewater Stabilization Ponds. In WDSA/CCWI Joint Conference Proceedings, Kingston, Canada.

Mulligan, R.P., Simper, N., and Mulligan, N.Y. (2018). An engineering design course to develop and assess critical thinking and problem solving. In   Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA) Proceedings, Vancouver, Canada.

Mulligan, R.P., Take, W.A., and Bullard, G.K. (2018). Landslide generated tsunamis: new laboratory experiments and theoretical developments. In Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) Proceedings, Fredericton, Canada., invited..

Mulligan, R.P., Take, W.A., and Bullard, G.K. (2018). Modelling tsunami from landslides with different mobility. Proceedings of the 7th Int. Conf. on the Application of Physical Modelling in Coastal and Port Engineering and Science (Coastlab18), Santander, Spain.

Take, W.A., Mulligan, R.P., Stevenson, E.P., and Miller, G.A. 2016. Physical modelling of landslides into reservoirs: effect of capillarity on rheology of granular landslide at impact. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Landslides, Napoli, Italy.

Mulligan R.P., Take, W.A., and Miller, G., 2106. Propagation and runup of tsunamis generated by gravitationally accelerated granular landslides. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Application of Physical Modelling in Coastal and Port Engineering and Science (Coastlab16), Ottawa, Canada.

Marmoush, R.Y., and Mulligan, R.P., 2016. Physical modelling and non-hydrostatic numerical modelling of wave propagation in a wave basin. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Application of Physical Modelling in Coastal and Port Engineering and Science (Coastlab16), Ottawa, Canada.

Wang, E., Christison, K., and Mulligan, R.P., 2016. Numerical Modelling of Effluent Dilution and Dispersion in the Lower Fraser River. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Outfall Systems, Ottawa, Canada.

Mulligan, R.P., Mallinson, D., Clunies, G., Zaremba, N., Leorri, E., Culver, S., Mitra, S., and Riggs, S., (2015). Sediment dynamics and morphological evolution of a large back-barrier estuary. Proceeding of Coastal Sediments 2015, World Scientific, doi: 10.1142/9789814689977_0205.

Mulligan, R.P., Ashall, L., van Proosdij, D., and Poirier, E. (2015). Hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics in macrotidal drainage channels and salt marshes. Proceeding of  the 36th IAHR World Congress, The Hague, the Netherlands, ISBN: 978-90-824846-0-1.

Beylard, B., da Silva, A.M., and Mulligan, R.P. (2015). A laboratory investigation of wave-driven dune and beach morphology change under high storm surges. Proceeding of  the 36th IAHR World Congress, The Hague, the Netherlands, ISBN: 978-90-824846-0-1.

Miller. G., Take, A., and Mulligan, R.P., (2014). Parametric study of landslide generated impulse wave physical modeling, Proceedings of the 6th Canadian GeoHazards Conference, Kingston, ON, 7 pp.

Mathura, N., Cree, D., and Mulligan, R.P., (2013). Characterization and utilization of coconut fibers of the Caribbean, Proc. XXII International Materials Research Congress, Materials Research Society, Cancun, Mexico.

Berard, N.A., Mulligan, R.P., and da Silva, A.M.F., (2013). A physical and numerical model of waves and near bed velocities under bi-chromatic conditions over a steeply sloping beach face. Proc. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Montreal, QC.

McCombs, M.P., Mulligan, R.P., Boegman, L., Rao, Y.R., (2013). Wave propagation and growth in the Kingston Basin of Eastern Lake Ontario. Proc. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Montreal, QC.

Mulligan, R.P., Smith. P.C., Hill, P.S., Tao, J., and van Proosdij, D., (2013). Effects of tidal power generation on hydrodynamics and sediment processes in the upper Bay of Fundy. Proc. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Montreal, QC.

Mulligan, R.P., Hanson, J.L., and Hathaway, K.K. (2011). Observations of wave breaking and surf zone width from a real-time cross-shore array of wave and current sensors at Duck, NC. Proc. IEEE/OES Current, Waves and Turbulence Measurement Workshop, Monterey, CA, doi: 10.1109/CWTM.2011.5759540, p. 130-137.

Mulligan, R.P., Stronach, J., Isfeld, O., and Woo, K. (2003). Comox Lake and Puntledge River temperature modelling study.  Proceedings of the Canadian Water Resources National Conference, Vancouver, BC, 264-270.

Stronach, J., Gardiner, S.R., Mulligan, R.P., and Draho, R. (2001).  Limnology of Okanagan Lake.  Proceedings of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Victoria, BC, H51-H58.





COASTLINES – Canadian Coastal and Lake Forecasting Model System

During Nearshore Event Experiment


Coastal Hydrodynamics and Natural Geologic Evolution

US National Science Foundation, Division of Ocean Sciences

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Canadian Foundation for Innovation

Coastal Engineering Lab


Ocean Voyager Award, American Geophysical Union (AGU) , 2022

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