Combating coastal erosion: data is key to Scottish and US approaches

Monday 18th August 2008
Coastal erosion Courtesy:

As Inverness searches for a coastal planning officer, Edinburgh based technology company WFS is to lead a consortium to develop an underwater sensor network to monitor the impact of climate change on coastal erosion. In the US concern for beach erosion and coral damage drives a data monitoring approach by Florida-based Lindorn.

Scottish technology pioneer Livingston-based WFS is leading a consortium to develop an underwater sensor network that can monitor the impact of climate change on coastal erosion. The £670,000 project will run for 18 months to deliver an innovative coastal monitoring system.

Coastal erosion, caused by the impact of waves and small particles of rock and sediment
wears away the coastline. With 50-70% of the global human population living in coastal
zones  and rising sea levels speeding up beach erosion, researchers need a way to monitor what is happening within the sea.

WFS, together with Swansea Metropolitan University and hydrometric and oceanographic
instrumentation company, the Devon-based Valeport Ltd will develop the world’s first wireless network of underwater sensors, giving researchers a real-time holistic look at seabed erosion.

Swansea's School of Applied Computing brings expertise in the design and simulation of advanced networks, protocol design and communications systems building upconsiderable expertise in network simulation using industrial level simulation environments such as Matlab, Simulink and Opnet Modeller.The aim is to deploy over 200 monitoring systems around the world to measure changes on the seabed to predict and measure coastal erosion.

The initiative has received an investment of nearly £450,000 from the Technology Strategy
Board and will be managed by the School of Applied Computing at Swansea Metropolitan

Brendan Hyland, CEO of WFS, said: “This is a great opportunity to put British research at the forefront of the fight against climate change. We are already seeing the consequences of coastal erosion in many parts of Britain, but its impact across the world is equally devastating. Without an effective method of monitoring and predicting where and when erosion will take place, governments and communities are unable to plan for the future.

“With the support of the Technology Strategy Board, we can for the first time start to
monitor what is happening under the sea. By bringing together WFS’s expertise in
through-water wireless, Valeport’s leading edge instrumentation and Swansea
Metropolitan University research knowledge, Britain can develop a practical solution
to a global problem.”

Nick Appleyard, lead technologist for the Technology Strategy Board said: “The Technology Strategy Board supports the research, development and exploitation of technology for the benefit of the UK economy and to improve quality of life. This project brings together the UK’s world class expertise to research and develop an innovative technology that could be exploited globally. We are delighted to offer our support and investment to WFS and their partners in this important project.”


Coastal erosion of beaches: another approach
In the US,  a Swedish company Lindorn, established  in 1989 by Florida-based Dr Ulf Erlingsson  has also been focusing its attention on beach erosion problems and those of coral protection, with the emphasis being on data collection. Lindorn CEO Dr Ulf Erlingsson takes the viewpoint that past attempts at coastal protection often have unintended , but very damaging side affects which can only be mitigated by exhaustive data montoring to ensure a sound solution.(Right: Soft coral reef Courtesy:

Lindor's route has had the objective of developing a deeply submerged device for damping offshore waves in order to modify  wave climate and reduce erosion at hot spots on the shore and such moves could be aligned with the currently developing wave energy generating research.

Ulf Erlingsson is an advocate of best management practice on siltation, and an early pioneer in developing subsea monitoring instrumentation.  The company has tested various designs in its own wave tank, finding promise in the Wave Engulfer. This field prototype was built for investigating the effects on sediments, and makes use of installed underwater SediMeters  to monitor erosion and deposition.

Its instrument development includes a LogDator for various earth science applications which includes both new versions of instruments adapted for field of use, and new application instruments such as a self-contained SediSond.


Footnote: Inverness needs a Coastal Planning Officer
To support existing planning staff in delivering the Council’s aquaculture planning functions in preparation for the formal transfer of planning powers over aquaculture to local authorities.
The officer will also undertake and contribute to the updating and expansion of the Highland Council’s existing strategic guidance on fish farm developments via Aquaculture Framework Plans and coastal strategies.

In addition, the officer will assist existing staff implement the Council’s Coastal Zone Management initiatives and other relevant coastal projects, and contribute to the collection of relevant information, updating and maintenance of aquaculture databases.

Qualified to degree level in an appropriate discipline, you will have coastal planning/policy experience. An understanding of coastal resource management and familiarity with the Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture are also essential.
George Hamilton, tel (01463) 702568, or Colin Wishart, tel (01463) 702272.
Closing date: Friday 29 August 2008

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