Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Modelling of dynamic coastal processes

Despite the natural wealth represented by wetlands and coastal zones, and their contributions to local, national and regional economies, the importance of these ecosystems has been poorly understood. As a result, effective management of resources and processes involved is necessary for promoting their conservation and sustainable use. Focusing on wetland conservation, mud flats are found to be the key ecological system. The COSINUS project has succeeded in developing physical and mathematical models that provide detailed information on the processes related to cohesive sediment (mud) transport.
Modelling of dynamic coastal processes
The need to preserve the marine and coastal ecology for future generations, the competing and often conflicting demands for access to coastal zones by the population and property developers, and the necessity to promote sustainable development require an integrated approach to coastal zone management. However, the management of these environments is a multifactor and highly complicated problem that needs in depth understanding of their resource dynamics. Many mathematical models though adequately descriptive in detail, are limited to two dimensional systems and are inefficient for simulating processes related to concentrated benthic (near bed) suspensions (CBS or mud fluid), such as turbulence damping, flocculation, entrainment, internal waves, erosion, sedimentation and bed consolidation.

Within the COSINUS project a well-established system of physical and mathematical models that sufficiently describe the CBS dynamics has been developed. Moreover the system has also included the aspects of interactions with bed and water movement. Based on the state-of-the-art models and on experimentation, the project resulted in a set of different validated process models. The models have also been parameterised for their easy application into currently used operational models used for environmental management, engineering applications and research.

Evidently, the research results will definitely contribute to an improved evaluation of the human intervention on the coastal and estuarine environmental systems. Based on the spatial and temporal distribution of mud patterns, authorities are capable of maintaining safe navigational depths and reducing operational and maintenance costs of port basins. The COSINUS results will also benefit the consulting firms that may directly use the commercially available software or indirectly utilise the acquired enhanced knowledge on CBS processes. Finally, the accurate determination of the accumulation patterns of (contaminated) sediment results to the sustainable development of estuaries and coastal zones, including the restoration of wetlands and inter-tidal areas, contributes to a healthier, more manageable environment.

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