Recent and current research projects:
- EcoWAtt2020 (EPSRC)
Strategic marine planning for future phases of wave, tidal and offshore wind development is now in progress. EcoWatt2050 project has been specifically designed to answer following questions raised by planners and licensing authorities (1) How can marine planning be used to lay the foundation for the sustainable development of very large scale arrays of marine renewable energy devices? (2) What criteria should be used to determine the ecological limits to marine renewable energy extraction, and what are the implications for very large scale array characteristics? (3) How can we differentiate the effects of climate change from energy extraction on the marine ecosystem? (4) Are there ways in which marine renewables development may ameliorate or exacerbate the predicted effects of climate change on marine ecosystems? The overarching objective is thus to determine ways in which marine spatial planning and policy development, can enable the maximum level of marine energy extraction, while minimizing environmental impacts and ensuring that these meet the legal criteria established by European law.
- FloodMEMORY: Multi event modelling of risk and recovery (EPSRC)
The project will look at the most critical flood scenarios caused by sequences or clusters of extreme weather events striking vulnerable coastal and river systems, communities and businesses. The project will analyse and simulate situations where a second flood may strike before coastal or river defences have been reinstated after damage, or householders and small businesses are in a vulnerable condition recovering from the first flood. By examining such events and identifying the worst case scenarios, we hope our findings will lead to enhanced flood resilience and better allocation of resources for protection and recovery. Ultimately the processes developed could be used worldwide. Other aspects of the project will look at how coasts (beaches, dunes and engineered defences) and rivers behave during storms. Of particular interest is the effect of previous storms and floods moving sediment (i.e. shingle, sand and river bed material) so that the beach or river is in a different (perhaps weaker) condition when a second flood event arrives.
- iCOASST: Integrated coastal sediment systems (NERC)
Prediction of changing coastal morphology over timescales of decades raises scientific challenges to which there are not yet widely applicable solutions. Yet improved predictions are essential in order to quantify the risk of coastal erosion. Whilst ‘bottom-up’ process-based models provide valuable evidence about hydrodynamic, sediment transport and morphodynamic processes in the short term, their predictive accuracy over scales of decades is for the time being fundamentally limited. Meanwhile, behavioural systems models, that focus on the main processes and feedback mechanisms that regulate coastal form have been shown to have predictive capability at the mesoscale (10-100 years and 10-100 km). However, their application has been limited to a rather narrow sub-set of coastal forms. The iCOASST project is based upon a hierarchical systems concept which combines (i) the beneficial features of process-based models, (ii) a new generation of coastal behavioural systems models, and (iii) an extended approach to coastal systems mapping, which can be used to systematise and formalise different sources of knowledge about coastal behaviour. All the software developed within iCoast will be open source and OpenMI compliant.
- TeraWatt: Large scale Interactive coupled 3D modelling for wave and tidal energy resource and environmental impact ( EPSRC)
As part of the licensing arrangements for marine energy development projects, environmental impacts on the immediate vicinity of the energy device arrays will be addressed in the EIA process. It is essential however that the regulatory authorities understand how a number of multi-site developments collectively impact on the physical and biological environment over a wider region. At a regional scale, careful selection of sites may enable the optimum exploitation of the resource while minimising environmental impacts to an acceptable limit. The Terawatt project will investigate (i) The best way to assess the wave and tidal energy resource and the effects of energy extraction on the resource itself and (ii) The physical and ecological consequences of wave and tidal energy extraction. The project will use a collection of state of the art coastal area models to investigate these aspects in order to generate a suite of methodologies that can provide better understanding of, and be used to access, the alteration of the resource from energy extraction, and of the physical and ecological consequence.