The University of Southampton
Engineering

Research project: iCOASST - integrating coastal sediment systems

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The challenge posed by climate change requires a change in our approach to managing coastal erosion and flood risk. The effects of humans using the coastline, such as changes in land use or increased transport and expansion of ports, has changed the coastline's physical conditions. The iCOASST project brings together a number of UK universities, research laboratories and geological partners with leading engineering consultants, to develop new methods that will characterise and forecast decadal changes. This work is funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council and is partnered by the Environment Agency who will use these methods to improve long-term flood and erosion risk management.

Project Overview

The UK coast is composed of a variety of land forms (e.g. beaches, estuaries, cliffs) which we have the capablity to model in isolation. The project aims to link these models together to provide a tool for predicting coastal change over larger spatial and longer time scales. Central to this system is a new generation of behavioural landform models capable of coupled application at regional scales to resolve key feedbacks between climate forcing, sediment supply, morphology and erosion and flood risk. However, implementation of such models requires rigorous characterisation of landform components and their relationships in terms of energy and mass (sediment) fluxes.

The project has four main work packages which will work closely together:

1. A Systems Modelling Framework: The team will characterise the coast to determine relationships between coastal features in order to define what quantitaive models will be needed to simulate the processes.

2. Producing Behavioural Geomorphic Models: Using observations to find patterns of behaviour between different geomorphic variables that may then be used to predict future coastal systems behaviour.

3. Case studies: To validate the framework and behaviour models, the coasts of Suffolk (Lowestoft to Harwich) and Liverpool Bay are used as test sites. A large amount of data is available at each site, which enables robust testing. 

4. Pathway to impact: The project will engage with stakeholders from start to finish to ensure the project outcomes are of use. The results will be used in strategic coastal assessments and wider coastal science.

Project partners

Environmental Change Institute, Oxford; University College London; National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool; Swansea University; University of Manchester; HR Wallingford; Royal Haskoning; British Geological Survey; Cardiff University; University of Liverpool; Environment Agency; Channel Coastal Observatory


For further information please contact
Jon Lawn 023 8059 2651 J.Lawn@soton.ac.uk

Associated research themes

iCOASST website www.icoasst.net

Related research groups

Energy and Climate Change
Coastal Engineering and Management
Geology and Geophysics

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Team fieldtrip, Liverpool Bay

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