Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) have developed a method for evaluating the vulnerability of coastal regions to the impact of storms. The method, which has been applied on the Catalan coastline, shows that one-third of the region's coasts have a high rate of vulnerability to flooding, while 20% are at risk of erosion.
"Until now there was no tool for evaluating coastal storm vulnerability that could quantify the processes and the probabilities of these events occurring. This is why we have developed a method to allow coastal managers the government to predict the scale of the damage caused by these kinds of phenomena, which are becoming increasingly frequent", Eva Bosom, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Maritime Engineering Laboratory of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UC), tells SINC.
Some 34% of the central Catalan coast exhibits a level of vulnerability to flooding ranging from high to very high, while this vulnerability is medium in almost 50% of cases, indicating the existence of "fairly frequent coastal inundation problems", the study points out. With regard to the risk of erosion, 20% of the areas are at medium to high risk, especially in the south, where the beaches are narrower and the sand fine.
A coast's capacity to cope with the impact of a storm depends on the intensity of the storm and the geomorphology of each beach. The most common "damaging" processes are flooding and erosion.
The UPC based their study on these processes in measuring the fragility of a 50-kilometer stretch of the Catalan coast. "Flooding and erosion were evaluated separately because, although they are caused by the same agent storms their intensity is not equally dependent on the characteristics of the storm, and the damage caused by them is not the same", explains Bosom. Wave data from the past 50 years, from 1958 through to 2008, was used for the study.
The results, p
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology