Enhanced coastal flood and erosion protection

Prof. Iris Möller

Globally, coastal areas vulnerable to flooding and erosion are home to large numbers of people, industry, and valuable ecosystems. Their populations are rising at three times the global average with 1.4 billion people likely to reside in low lying coastal zones, often in urban areas, by 2060.

“Incorporating natural coastal features into climate adaptation plans offers more sustainable ways of managing coastal flood and erosion risk and sustaining the economic and social functioning of coastal communities.”

Traditional, ‘hard’ structures such as seawalls, dikes, or embankments, are no longer fit for purpose at a time of rising sea levels and a projected increase in the intensity of storms due to climate change. Natural coastal features and ecosystems such as beaches, dunes, and wetlands provide valuable natural protection through slowing the progression of high-water levels and reducing the energy of waves during storm surges. They also capture and store carbon, support biodiversity and local livelihoods and offer invaluable opportunities for environmental education.

Prof Iris Möller has over 25 years’ experience of studying low-lying coasts. Her research team uses state-of-the-art data logging systems, remote sensing (e.g. remotely controlled airborne vehicles (UAVs) and satellite imagery), field and laboratory methods to understand coastal dynamics. She works with stakeholders across the private (including insurance), public, and non-government sector to achieve more sustainable, scientifically informed coastal flood and erosion risk reduction solutions. Finding ways of incorporating the value of coastal natural capital in coastal climate adaptation solutions is a key component of this work.