Dr. Philip Orton

School: Schaefer School of Engineering & Science
Department: Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering
Building: Davidson Laboratory
Room: 210
Phone: 201.216.8095
Fax: 201.216.8214
Email: philip.orton@stevens.edu

Columbia University, Ph.D., physical oceanography, dissertation

University of South Carolina, M.S., marine science

University of Michigan, B.S., physical oceanography


Fluid dynamics, the study of fluids in motion, lies at the heart of most questions that humans ask of the ocean.  Increasing numbers of people are moving to its coastlines, yet the added stress we put on the ocean can overwhelm its benefits.  Evaluating problems such as storm surges, climate change, and pollutant discharges requires a detailed knowledge of ocean, estuary, and atmosphere transport processes.

I enjoy living and working in a metro region with 22 million people mostly living on islands like Manhattan and increasingly aware of their connections with the surrounding ocean.  I’m a research assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, and my specific research interests include estuary and coastal ocean physics, storm surges and sea level rise, urban flood adaptation, air-sea interaction, sediment transport, urban and coastal atmospheric science, and computational ocean and atmosphere modeling.

General Information

Contributing Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on the topic of ‘Ocean, Cryosphere, and Sea Level Change’ (2019)

Member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC; 2013-present)

Appointed by New Jersey's Governor to the New Jersey Wetland Mitigation Council (2017-present)

Jamaica Bay Science and Resilience Institute, Executive Committee and Science Steering Committee (2016-present)

NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program Science and Technical Advisory Panel (2017-present) 

Institutional Service

Stevens Academic Planning and Resources Committee (2016-present)

Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute Steering Committee (2018-present)

Consulting Service

2018 “Preliminary Evaluation of the Physical Influences of Storm Surge Barriers on the Hudson River Estuary”. Funded by NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program. Conducted hydrodynamic model experiments for a range of flow conditions that storm surge barriers might present, and evaluated influences of physical characteristics in the Hudson River estuary. The resulting information and analyses were then discussed in a meeting with other technical experts and managers involved in coastal resiliency planning, written up in a technical report, and presented in a highly attended public seminar.  

2016-2017 New Jersey Transit Expert Witness. Prepared expert opinion document, expert rebuttal document, and gave a sworn deposition for a suit against the insurance industry, regarding damages from Hurricane Sandy.  Demonstrated that saltwater-flooded train stock was stored on land that had never previously flooded in at least three centuries, showing that storing it there was not an extremely negligent decision, as had been argued.  This work helped NJ Transit recover an additional $300 million in insurance claims that insurers were withholding.  

Honors & Awards

Since 2010, I have published 37 peer-reviewed articles and been PI, lead author, or co-author on 22 funded research proposals worth $4.5 million to my institution

2014 - 2015 Buckminster Fuller design challenge award, 2015 ACEC New York PLATINUM AWARD, AIA Architecture collaboration award – all for flood adaptation design

2014 Housing and Urban Development Rebuild By Design – winning design team


Research Assistant Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology (2014 - present)

Research Scientist, Stevens Institute of Technology (2012-2013)

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Stevens Institute of Technology (2011-2012)

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (2010)

Selected Publications
  1. Orton, P. M., F. R. Conticello, F. Cioffi, T. M. Hall, N. Georgas, U. Lall, A. F. Blumberg, and K. MacManus. (2018). "Flood hazard assessment from storm tides, rain and sea level rise for a tidal river estuary", Natural Hazards, 1-29, doi:10.1007/s11069-018-3251-x.
  2. Marsooli, R., P.M. Orton, and G. Mellor. (2017). "Modeling wave attenuation by salt marshes in Jamaica Bay, New York, using a new rapid wave model", Journal of Geophysical Research, 122, doi:10.1002/2016JC012546.
  3. Orton, P. M., Hall, T. M., Talke, S., Blumberg, A. F., Georgas, N., & Vinogradov, S.. (2016). "A Validated Tropical-Extratropical Flood Hazard Assessment for New York Harbor", Journal of Geophysical Research, 121 doi: 10.1002/ 2016JC011679.  Download  .
  4. Brandon, C.M., J.D. Woodruff, P.M. Orton and J.P. Donnelly. (2016). "Evidence for Elevated Coastal Vulnerability Following Large-Scale Historical Oyster Bed Harvesting", Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, DOI:10.1002/esp.3931.
  5. Orton, P. M., S. A. Talke, D. A. Jay, L. Yin, A. F. Blumberg, N. Georgas, H. Zhao, H. J. Roberts, and K. MacManus. (2015). "Channel Shallowing as Mitigation of Coastal Flooding", Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 3 (3), 654-673.  web open access  .
  • OE 512 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics