Vulnerability of coastal infrastructures under climate change

Many transport and energy infrastructures in the UK such as railways and nuclear facilities are built by the coast, and thus are exposed to the risk of coastal floods and erosion. Very often, the protection of these facilities relies on coastal defence structures, such as seawalls and groynes, whose performance is threatened by many environmental factors (e.g. degradation, erosion, corrosion,..). Climate-change related effects such as the average sea-level rise and the increased occurrence of extreme surge events are also likely to substantially increase the risk of failure of these coastal defence structures and thus to the damage of many coastal infrastructures in the coming decades.

While much research has been done on the assessment of the coastal erosion hazard, research on the vulnerability and performance of coastal defence structures and on their interactions with beaches has been scarce.

The aim of the project is to provide a framework for estimating the risk of coastal defence structures exposed to inundation, wave, and erosion processes associated with coastal flood and erosion hazard. The framework will combine the expertise of Dr. Nicoletta Leonardi on coastal flooding and erosion, of Dr. Patelli on treatment and propagation of uncertainty inherent to the hazard and the simulation models, and of Dr. Tubaldi on structural vulnerability assessment and flood-induced scouring of infrastructures.

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Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantification and Management of Risk & Uncertainty in Complex Systems & Environments is funded by EPSRC and ESRC.