3D coastal defence

The University of Brighton has produced 3D before-and-after printouts of sea defences at Medmerry near Chichester, Europe’s largest coastal Management Realignment site.

Nick Gray, coastal engineer with the Environment Agency, collected the models from Dr Heidi Burgess, Senior Lecturer in the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences.

Nick commissioned the printouts for the Visitors Centre at Pagham. They show the seafront before realignment and after.

Dr Heidi Burgess and Nick Gray with the 3D printouts

Dr Heidi Burgess and Nick Gray with the 3D printouts

The Medmerry nature reserve is one of the south coast’s most vulnerable areas to flooding from the sea. The managed realignment, completed in 2013 at a cost of £28m, is the largest open-coast scheme in Europe and is one of the most sustainable projects the Environment Agency has ever delivered.

It provides 1000 times better flood protection than the previous defence system and has delivered extensive new intertidal and freshwater habitat, compensating for losses elsewhere in the region caused by coastal squeeze.

A breach was created in the existing shingle bank to allow the sea to reclaim an area of land close to the shore. New floodbanks were built around the perimeter of this new flood inundation zone, and while they sit much closer to the surrounding communities than the previous shingle bank, the result is significantly increased flood protection. The inundation zone absorbs the energy and impact of the waves while also offering important new habitat.

The university is being funded by the Environment Agency to monitor and sample the intertidal sediment and hydrodynamics along with meteorological data within the new Medmerry site.

Nick Gray said: “I couldn’t be happier with our partnership with the University of Brighton; the team has been producing excellent results and provides a unique viewpoint we don’t often benefit from on other projects.”

As part of a larger multidisciplinary team, co-ordinated by the Environment Agency, this data is feeding into other research areas including flora and fauna to build up a fuller interdependent multi-criteria understanding of the development of managed realignment sites.  This work is already informing industry on the design of future inter-tidal environments around the world.

For more information, go to: https://www.brighton.ac.uk/research/our-research/life-health-and-physical-sciences/research-groups/sustainability-and-resilience-engineering/medmerry.aspx

The Environment Agency is launching its 2016 Flood Action Campaign on 1 November. Go to: www.thunderclap.it/projects/49005-floodaware-check-your-risk


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