Flanders Hydraulics Research investigates coastal safety against extreme storms and coastal protection against erosion. The expertise we acquire in this field of research is closely in line with our goal of sustainably increasing flood safety and supporting integrated coastal zone management. For example, we are helping to adapt the coastal zone to climate change and, in particular, rising sea levels.
We study coastal safety against extreme storms in all its aspects, ranging from the hydrometeorological characteristics of storms in the North Sea, the wave propagation over the Flemish Banks, in the beach zone and in the harbours, the storm erosion of beaches and dunes, the failure behaviour of sea dikes and flood defences in the harbours, to the possible flooding of the low-lying coastal plain.
For coastal protection against erosion we investigate the relationship between tidal currents, waves and wind as driving factors and the sand transport and morphological evolutions of the dunes, the beaches, the foreshore and the near shore seabed. With our expertise we support the design of sand nourishments and other soft measures such as marram grass planting, and we study the effect of groynes and other hard structures on coastal morphology.
We share our expertise with other researchers and stakeholders so that we can work together on integrated coastal zone management that meets the challenges of climate change. We are also investigating the effect of climate scenarios on the wave climate and sand management. Together with biologists, we are working on nature-based solutions for coastal protection that create ecological added value at the same time. We study the possibilities of using dredge spoil for coastal protection to create win-win profits from the accessibility of the ports. We are committed to making the coast a pleasant environment for tourists and holidaymakers.
Flanders Hydraulics Research specialises in policy advice and the (pre)design, monitoring and testing of sea defences. We have specific expertise in coastal protection structures, including sea dikes, dunes, beaches, harbour dams and storm walls. We investigate the interaction with waves, currents and sand transport. We do this by using in situ measurements of hydrodynamic and morphodynamic processes, scale model tests in 2D (wave flume) or 3D (wave basin) and advanced numerical models that give us insight in tides, wave propagation, beach erosion, dune erosion, wave flapping, wave overshoot (e.g. CFD modelling). We keep an up-to-date set of instruments that can be used to assess the strength of sea defences and to assess the risks of damage and casualties in the event of flooding by the sea. These tools are used by the policy in the 6-year cycle to evaluate the state of coastal safety.
In order to develop sustainable solutions for erosion protection, Flanders Hydraulics Research is conducting research into the morphodynamics of the coastal zone. We carry out desktop studies in which we first digitise and then study old data, we carry out in situ measurements and we draw up numerical models. A better understanding of the complexity of processes on a range of time scales (from centuries to hours) allows us to propose measures that cooperate with nature. This also allows us to avoid creating new erosion problems. Flanders Hydraulics Research not only provides advice and research on the design of new measures, but also evaluates the evolution of works carried out by means of long-term monitoring. For this purpose, we perform site measurements of e.g. flow rates, flow velocities, beach profiles, grain size and other characteristics of beach sand.
Flanders Hydraulics Research participates in collaboration with policymakers and researchers with other specialisations such as ecologists, spatial planners, historians, local authorities and so on. Its aim is to work on integrated coastal zone management. We want to help address societal challenges such as adapting to climate change, compensating for biodiversity loss, blue energy generation, accessibility of ports, salinisation and so on. Participating in multidisciplinary teams, carrying out desktop studies, broad communication of technical research results, participating in working groups, giving presentations to the general public and so on are the ways in which we do our bit.
Coastal safety against extreme storms
- Coastal Safety Assessment – dunes & dikes
- Coupling SWASH and DualSPHysics
- Physical scale model research for the design of a new sea dike at Westende-Middelkerke
Coastal protection against erosion
- Morphological monitoring of a nourishment at Mariakerke
- Morphological trends of beach, dune foot, shoreface and adjoining seabed
Integrated coastal zone management