Personal tools

You are here: Home / Research / Dynamics & vulnerability of coastal zones

Axis 5

Coastal risks, systemic vulnerability, coastal geomorphology, hydro-sedimentary dynamics, multi-source and multi-proxy observation, erosion and flooding



Serge SUANEZ (LETG/Geomer), Nicolas LE DANTEC (LDO)

Participating laboratories

Scientific context

The rationale of axis 5 is to observe and understand coastal vulnerability arising from the combination of natural and complex social dynamics, so as to devise coherent and long-term strategies for a sustainable management of the coastal zone. Coastal vulnerability, in particular to erosion and flooding, is related to the response of coastal environments (beaches, dunes, cliffs, estuaries) to physical forcing such as marine and meteorological hazards and the subsequent storm impacts on the coast (sediment transport processes, geomorphological evolution), or also longer-term forcing due to climate change (sea-level rise, storminess increase). Coastal vulnerability is also related to human forcing accompanying the increase of social and economic activities, urbanization, coastal defense and changes in land use as well as governance strategies, nature conservation and public policies, etc. The analysis of physical and human forcing following spatial, temporal and social multi-scale and multi-disciplinary approaches will yield a knowledge base of coastal dynamics and vulnerability.


The objective of the axis is to gain insight on hydrodynamic and morpho-sedimentary processes involved in erosion and flooding hazards, and to better understand the associated risks with a systemic approach to vulnerability.

Research actions will mainly focus on:
  • coastal hydrodynamics: energy dissipation ; hydro-sedimentary processes at the sediment-water interface ; role of infragravity waves and their consequences for flooding and erosion, wave-beachcliff interactions and processes involved in cliff-top storm deposits.
  • coastal morphodynamics: kinematics of the shoreline ; beach/dune profile evolution ; cliff erosion, sediment fluxes ; foreshore dynamics and sediment budgets, dynamics of underwater bedforms.
  • modeling: coupled hydro-morpho-sedimentary modeling on beach morphodynamics ; wave-towave modeling approach to examine the effect of transient hydrodynamic processes on sea level changes (setup, runup) and on sediment fluxes in the swash zone.
  • methodological developments to add and enhance observation tools for the measurement of forcing factors and dynamics.
  • implications of the occupation and uses of the coastal strip by human activities: impact of anthropogenic forcing on the natural environment.

Expected results

Studies on coastal hydro-sedimentary processes will improve our understanding of the response of the littoral zone to present and future forcing scenarios. The challenges consist in discriminating the contributions of multiple forcing factors playing a role in coastal erosion and submersion. Innovative observation methodologies aim at unraveling the processes acting at different spatial and temporal scales. The combination of modeling and observation networks will contribute to risk assessment at regional and global scales. The pioneering research on systemic vulnerability will set the scene for the development of a novel monitoring paradigm meant to support comprehensive and effective coastal risk management. Vulnerability indicators will be adapted both to academic research and to their usage by stake-holders and managers.

Expected outcomes include guidelines for the implementation of methodologies and tools of practical use for the orientation of national and local government strategies and policies regarding coastal management and defense.

More information (downloads)

2012-2015 axis 5 roadmap

NEW : 2016-2019 axis 5 roadmap

Document Actions

See the axis 5 leaflet

LabexMER & Twitter