ISOS Miniproposal

October 2017

Joshua's doctoral projects deals with managed realignment and saltmarsh restoration and he just finished his miniproposal. He spend some time in the UK and gives you an insight into his research and fieldwork.


So far, coastal protection schemes have been based on hardened and engineered solutions such as seawalls and dikes. In the near future, this may become very unsustainable in many rural areas as these sructures have to be heightened and widened on a continious basis. Managed realignment (MR), the breaching or removal of sea defences, has been proposed as a nature based alternative providing, amongst others, coastal protection by means of restoring formerly reclaimed saltmarshes. Monitoring and evaluation of MR is often confined to the first few years and focusses on structural site characteristics while ecosystem processes such as surge attenuation and related hydrodynamics are neglected. This constitutes a serious knowledge gap, hampering the further implementation of MR.
To address this gap in knowledge I applied for a miniproposal and worked in close collaboration with colleagues from the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU), University of Cambridge. Together with the CCRU, I planned and prepared 11 days of field work at a realignment site in the Wash embayment. In the restored saltmarsh of Freiston Shore, we deployed a series of 21 pressure transducers along 4 transects for measuring waves and water levels. Two transects were located within and two outside the MR. This enabled us to compare water levels in front of the site with water levels within, which will reveal whether any surge attenuation effect is present or not. Furthermore, we captured the morphology of the site with a Leica (RTK) GPS and recorded vegetation characteristics, such as species, height, coverage and density along each of the 4 transects.
The results of this field study will be used to set up a hydrodynamic model for Freiston Shore, enabling a sensitivity analysis on site characteristics (vegetation, topography, tidal creek network) and the possibility to run the model for the most extreme events. The vision is to use these results for the deduction of optimal site characteristics for MR schemes to actually provide coastal protection.
The miniproposal enabled me to independently plan and conduct my own research project abroad, kick start a collaboration with world leading experts in my field of research and to broaden my scientific network.
Go take the chance!