Will our Belgian coast be sufficiently protected against rising sea levels?

(25-06-2021) Vincent Gruwez wants to contribute to this with his doctoral research ‘Hydrodynamic Modelling of Wave Interactions with Sea Dikes on Shallow Foreshores: A Systematic Approach by Physical and Numerical Modelling'.

Low-lying coastal urban areas are becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding risks as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change. The Belgian coast is no exception, and is characterised by a hybrid beach-dike coastal defence system that protects high-rise buildings and the hinterland from flooding.

This coastal defence system consists of a steep sea dike with a high beach or - in short - a sea dike on a shallow foreshore.

Due to the complex processes that characterise wave interactions (wave overtopping and impact) with sea dikes on shallow foreshores, hydrodynamic modelling is part of the design methodology for such structures. It consists of: (1) physical modelling (scale model tests) and derived empirical prediction models, and (2) numerical modelling.

Vincent Gruwez carried out more than 400 tests in a wave flume using state-of-the-art techniques, which were then used to derive, improve or verify various prediction formulas.

The numerical modelling consisted of a detailed validation of fluid dynamics computer simulations with large-scale wave laboratory tests and a thorough comparison with other computer models commonly used in engineering practice.

"With this dissertation I try to make a significant contribution to the improvement of design guidelines and coastal safety assessment methods for the specific case of a sea dike on a shallow foreshore, so that unnecessary conservatism or catastrophic underestimation can be further avoided", concludes Vincent Gruwez.

Contact: Vincent Gruwez

Vincent Gruwez


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Final editing: Ilse Vercruysse - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke