View across an estuary surrounded by marshes with a wall and railings

Swansea University research into how artificial intelligence could be used to help tackle coastal flooding has just secured a major funding boost.

The 36-month interdisciplinary project, which will see academics from the Faculty of Science and Engineering working together, has been awarded a grant of £307,445 from the Leverhulme Trust.

Coastal and estuarine flooding will affect at least 15 per cent of the global population and cost approximately £50 billion annually by 2050. Some coastal communities and infrastructure are likely to be unviable unless measures are taken to defend them from flooding and erosion urgently.

As the current approach for coastal flood mitigation involving hard defences is increasingly becoming unfit for purpose, the urgency of implementing environmentally sustainable flood risk management approaches has been globally acknowledged.

This project, entitled Artificial Intelligence-assisted saltmarsh flood mitigation assessment, will utilise emerging AI techniques to address this need and support the design and development of sustainable nature-based coastal flood mitigation solutions (NbS) which can offer significant benefits to the environment and society.

The research will be directed by Professor Harshinie Karunarathna, from the Department of Civil Engineering, in association with Dr Alma Rahat, of the Department of Computer Science, and Dr John Griffin, Department of Biosciences. 

Professor Karunarathna said: ‘’I am delighted to direct this truly interdisciplinary project funded by a prestigious Leverhulme Trust research grant.

“Nature-based solutions are the future of coastal defence. We must work with nature, not against it, when finding solutions to mitigate the impacts of coastal hazards in this age of extreme climate change.

“It is especially exciting to work with data scientists and bioscientists within the University, and stakeholders outside academia, to find innovative and sustainable approaches for coastal flood mitigation.’’


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