For her PhD research in engineering, Evelien Brand carried out measurements on the beach near Mariakerke and Groenendijk for 12 weeks between 2017 and 2019, under the guidance of Professor Margaret Chen and Dr Anne-Lise Montreuil of VUB’s Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering Department (HYDR). This research shows that the strong tidal currents carry sand away during spring tides and the beach recovers during neap tides, when the difference between high and low tides is minimal.
Separate approach required
Currently, to arm coastal zones against the rising sea level caused by global warming, ‘soft’ measures such as sand nourishments are usually put in place. However, due to the unusual nature of the Belgian coast, these efforts, which are typical for the protection of wave-dominated coasts, cannot simply be copied.
Brand: “The Belgian coast, with the port of Zeebrugge among other things, has a high economic value and also houses almost half a million people. Due to climate change, this zone is coming under increasing pressure. Action is certainly needed to minimise the impact of rising sea levels, but in order to work effectively, it is important that we first map out the dynamics behind our coastline. One way to protect our tidal-dominated coastal zone is to raise the tidal banks.”
The research is part of the CREST project, in which several Flemish universities and institutions are participating and which is financed by the Scientific Research Fund (FWO).
For more information:
Article research: http://www.vliz.be/nl/open-marien-archief?module=ref&refid=317792