Coastal Processes Research Group (CPRG) – projects

CPRG undertake a range of research projects related to the coastal environment. 

Our projects vary in size and duration with funding coming from a variety of sources; research councils – Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – local authorities, industry and charities. 

We collaborate with research groups within the University of Plymouth and form partnerships with academics from other universities.

Some examples of current projects can be found below along with details of some projects and work that has been recently completed. 

If you have a project in mind or would like to discuss collaborating please get in touch via email: Professor Gerd Masselink.

 

Seagrass research

Location: Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, UK
Duration: Ongoing

  • As part of the NERC-funded BLUEcoast project, a core team researchers and technicians from the Coastal Processes Research Group and the Coastal Marine Applied Research consultancy group was based on the island of St Martins, Isles of Scilly, during September 2020 to measure hydro- and sediment-dynamic processes within seagrass meadows.
  • Seagrasses are of significant importance ecologically, but may also serve an important natural coastal protection function by extracting energy from waves and currents, and thus promoting sedimentation processes. As a result, seagrasses possess significant ‘natural capital’, that is, are of value to our society through the various services they provide. However, how exactly moving seagrass fronds effect wave, current and sediment transport processes and to what extent they promote sedimentation and provide natural coastal protection is largely unknown.
  • An extensive research programme was executed in September and October 2020, comprising of mapping, sediment sampling and instrument deployment.

 

Forecasting Coastal Evolution (ForCE)

Location: Global – Modelling the morphodynamic evolution of beaches around the world
Duration: Ongoing

  • Develop a new numerical modelling system (ForCE), capable of tracking and forecasting key resilience indicators for erosion and accretion of sedimentary coastlines, on time-scales of days to decades, facilitating evidenced-based coastal management.
  • Establish and disseminate a unique online dataset for calibrating and rigorously testing the ForCE and other coastal evolution models.
  • Establish a forum of UK and international coastal scientists, managers (Environment Agency) and forecasters (Met Office) with the collective goal of developing a management framework and state indicators, (based on the ForCE model output), which are indicative of the current and future health and resilience of the coast, facilitating evidenced-based coastal management.
  • Develop, demonstrate and rigorously test using field-data a near real-time implementation of the ForCE model - coastal state indicator prediction system at two dynamically contrasting UK field sites.

 

Coastal Modelling of Extreme Storms and Sea-Level Rise (CMESSLR)

Location: Delft, Maldives, Sydney, Auckland and Santa Cruz
Duration 2019–2021

  • Overseas Travel Grant funded by EPSRC.
  • Aim of this grant is, through collaboration with world-leading external partners, to increase coastal modelling capabilities of CPRG.
  • Collaboration with Deltares, University of New South Wales, University of Auckland and USGS.


Response of coral reef islands to sea-level rise

Location: Various locations in the Pacific and Indian Ocean
Duration: 2017–current

  • Ongoing collaboration with various coral reef scientists from the Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
  • Focus on using physical and numerical modeling to investigate the impact of sea-level rise on coral reef islands.

Press releases related to this work:

BLUEcoast

Location: North Cornwall, South Devon
Duration: 2016–2020

  • NERC £4 million project.
  • Importance of sediment budgets and their role in coastal recovery.
  • Model development of coastal change and coastal vulnerability.
  • Holistic and multidisciplinary approach, combining the expertise of biologists, coastal engineers, geologists, geographers and oceanographers.

South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP)

Location: South West Coast of England and South Wales 

Duration: 2017–2020

  • NERC £400,000 funded project.
  • SWEEP wave model to enable better preparation for storm events in the South West.
  • Aims to improve the level of detail and accuracy possible when predicting coastal flooding.
  • Part of the wider South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) project. A new initiative that will help deliver economic and community benefits to the South West via multiple agencies.

Waves Across Shore Platforms (WASP)

Location: Various UK locations
Duration: 2014–2016

  • Detailed wave measurements across a range of rocky platforms around the UK coastline.
  • Mapping the decay in wave energy across intertidal rocky platforms.
  • Found measurements will be used to improve existing models which aim to provide a predictive tool for examining wave energy reaching our coastline which can cause erosion and cliff falls.

PDF of the case study

Dynamics of Rip currents and Implications of Beach Safety (DRIBS)

Location: Perranporth, UK
Duration: 2010–2013

  • Collect two extensive field data sets to investigate and parameterise the relation between wave dissipation and rip dynamics over time scales ranging from minutes to days.
  • Use the field data to improve, validate and calibrate a numerical model (XBeach) capable of simulating nearshore cell circulation and rip current dynamics.
  • Develop a decision-support system (DSS) to predict several days in advance, and for different stages of the tide, the risk presented by rip currents to surf-zone water users.

New understanding and prediction of storm impacts on gravel beaches (NUPSIG)

Location: Loe Bar, Cornwall
Duration: 2010–2013

  • Collect detailed field measurements of waves, swash, groundwater and bed level change on a gravel beach during storm conditions.
  • Use the detailed field measurements to help develop a computer model to predict storm impact on gravel beaches.
  • Collect an extensive data set on storm response on 11 UK gravel barrier systems, representing a range of environmental conditions.
  • Use the extended dataset to verify the predictive capability of the storm impact model.
  • Develop a tool for end-users for predicting berm formation, overtopping, overwashing and breaching of gravel beaches and barriers.

PDF of the case study

Turbulence, Sediment Stratification and Altered Resuspension under Waves (TSSARWaves)

Location: Plymouth and Praa Sands, UK
Duration: 2009–2013

  • Models of bathymetric evolution, in the nearshore region, are of fundamental importance for studies on the coastal impacts of global warming and relative sea level rise.
  • Project aims to improve process-based models which are used to simulate onshore, offshore and longshore adjustments in nearshore bathymetry.
  • Combination of laboratory experiments (oscillating grid turbulence tank), field measurements, and numerical simulations designed to improve our ability to reproduce observed morphology changes through the inclusion of missing physics.

Active projects

Project Grant holder Duration Funding source
BLUE-coast, Physical and Biological Dynamic Coastal Processes and their Role in Coastal Recovery Professor Masselink, Professor Russell, Dr Conley and Dr Scott 2016–2020 NERC
Waves Across Shore Platforms (WASP)   Professor Masselink and Dr Martin Austin of Bangor University 2014–2016 EPSRC (EP/L025191/1)
Environmental Monitoring of Salt Marsh Restoration Project at South Efford   Dr Ken Kingston, Dr Mick Hanley, Professor Roland Gehrels and Dr Will Blake 2012– Environment Agency Grant
From runup to overwash (RUSH) Consultancy with Dr Ana Matias of Centre for Marine and Environmental Research, University of Algarve 2012– Science and Technology Foundation (Portugal)

Completed projects

Project Grant holder Duration Funding source
Impact of extreme storms during 13/14 on South West coast of England Professor Masselink, Professor Russell, Dr Davidson, Dr Conley, Dr Scott and Dr Fletcher 2014–2015 NERC (NE/M004996/1)
Topographic rip currents Professor Masselink, Professor Russell, Dr Scott and Dr Austin 2012 RNLI/Met Office/Marine Institute
Quaternary Raised Beaches of Devon and Cornwall: New Data for an Old Problem Dr Matt Telfer, Professor Roland Gehrels, Dr Will Marshall, Dr Ken Kingston and Dr Sarah Boulton 2012– Marine Institute Small Collaborative Research Grant
Proto-type Experiment and Numerical Modelling of Energetic Sediment Transport under Waves (PESTS) Professor Masselink and Dr Conley 2012– EPSRC EP/K000306/1
Coastal cliff erosion in Cornwall Professor Masselink and Dr Russell 2011–2014 European Social Fund and Great Western Research
Adaptation and resilience of coastal energy supply Professor Masselink and Dr Russell (with A. Plater of University of Liverpool) 2011–2013 EPSRC
Barrier dynamics experiment II (BARDEX II) Professor Masselink, Dr Conley and Dr Austin 2011–2012 EU FP7
Coarse sediment dynamics of rivers rising on Dartmoor National Park: implications for conservation and rural land management P. Ganderton (with P. Downs, School of Geography) 2011–2012 Seale-Hayne Educational Trust
New Understanding and Prediction of Storm Impacts on Gravel Beaches – NUPSIG Professor Masselink, Professor Russell and Dr Davidson 2010–2013 EPSRC
Dynamics of Rips and Implications for Beach Safety – DRIBS Professor Masselink and Professor Russell 2010–2013 NERC
Postgraduate Travel Grant - ICCE 2010 A. Ruiz de Alegria Arzaburu 2010 Royal Academy of Engineering
Development and pre-operational validation of upgraded GMES Marine Core Services and capabilities (MyOcean) Professor Shapiro 2009–2011 EU FP7
Development of a resource assessment tool for tidal power generation devices: regional modelling Dr Conley 2009–2011 Great Western Research and International Power
Turbulence, sediment stratification and altered resuspension under waves - TSSAR Waves Dr Conley and Dr Nimmo Smith 2009–2013 NERC
Groundwater seepage through a gravel barrier: implications for coastal erosion, saline-freshwater mixing and nutrient dispersal Dr Austin and Professor Masselink 2009–2011 Seale-Hayne Educational Trust
Morphological impacts and coastal risks induced by extreme storm events (MICORE) J. Williams and L. Esteves 2008–2011 EU FP7
Beach change over individual wave cycles on sand and gravel beaches Professor Masselink and Professor Russell 2008–2010 NERC
Barrier Dynamics Experiment BARDEX: European Community`s Sixth Framework Programme, Integrated Infrastucture Initiative HYDRALAB III J. Williams, Professor Masselink, Professor Russell, and others 2008 EU
Wave hub impacts on seabed and shoreline change WHISSP J. Williams, Dr Davidson, L. Esteves, P. Ganderton, D.A. Huntley, K. Kingston, Professor Masselink, J. Miles, Dr Nimmo Smith and Professor Russell 2007–2010 SWRDA
Coastal Flooding by Extreme Events – CoFEE J. Williams, L. Esteves and Professor Masselink 2007–2010 NERC
Wave-by-wave bed-level changes at the beachface of gravel and sand beaches I.L. Turner (University of New South Wales, Australia) with Professor Russell and Professor Masselink 2007–2010 Australian Research Council
Southern European Seas: Assessing and Modelling Ecosystem Change (SESAME) Dr Shapiro 2006–2011 EU FP6
Maximising the use of x-band radar images to extract hydrodynamic and morphologic information in nearshore areas J.J Williams 2008 Geography PuP Fund
Estuarine Situation in Devon and Cornwall: the Role of Agricultural Land Use Professor Gehrels, Professor Blake and Professor Masselink 2008 Seale-Hayne Educational Trust
Research-led investigations of coastal processes L. Esteves and J. Williams 2007–2008 Funded by SSB TQEF Research-informed teaching initiative and CETL in Experiential Learning
The Plymouth Student Scientist Gresty, K. Kingston and Auburn 2007–2009 Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund
LEACOAST II - Large scale morphodynamic impacts of segmented shore-parallel breakwaters on coasts and beaches Dr Davidson with civil engineering 2006–2009 EPSRC
RF PEBL - A Risk-based Framework for Predicting Long-term Beach Evolution Dr Davidson with civil engineering 2006–2009 EPSRC
Classification and risk assessment of UK beaches Professor Russell and Professor Masselink 2006–2009 RNLI and HEIF2
The Marine Sciences Forum Dr O`Hare and Pannel 2006 University of Plymouth Teaching Fellowship Award
The role of the beach step in swash zone and nearshore sediment transport on a steep gravel beach Dr Austin and Dr Buscombe 2005 The British Geomorphological Research Group
Avon Estuary siltation project Professor Blake, Professor Gehrels and Professor Masselink 2005–2007 South Hams Society
Development of innovative instrumentation to measure high frequency bed level changes in the swash zone Professor Russell 2005 EPSRC overseas travel grant
Development of new instrumentation at the University of New South Wales, Australia, to measure swash zone bathymetry to support participation in international research programme (SWASH3D) Professor Russell 2005 UNSW Engineering Faculty Research grant
Planning for an integrated field study of swash zone processes (SWASH3D) Professor Russell 2005 US Office of Naval Research (ONR)
Land based multispectral monitoring of the nearshore environment K. Kingston 2004–2007 NERC
Cross-shore sediment transport and Professorile evolution on natural beaches - X-SHORE Professor Russell, Dr O`Hare and Professor Masselink 2004–2008 NERC
FD 2107: Development of Estuary Morphological Models Dr Manning 2006–2007 Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory & Defra/EA
Development of innovative instrumentation to measure high frequency bed level changes in the swash zone. EPSRC overseas travel grant Professor Russell to collaborate with Dr Ian Turner, Water Research Laboratory, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 2005 EPSRC
Video Monitoring of Littorial Processes in Support of Coastal Zone Management Dr Davidson and D.A. Huntley 2002–2005 EC
FD1905: Estuary Process Research project – EstProc D.A.Huntley, Dr Manning, K.R.Dyer 2002–2005 EA/Defra & HR Wallingford
Human Interaction with Large-Scale Coastal Morphological Evolution Dr O`Hare and D.A. Huntley 2001–2004 EC
The Role of Swash in Shoreline Change Dr Russell, Professor Huntley and Dr Masselink
2000–2003 NERC 
Quanitification of Sediment Entrainment in the Coastal Zone (COSMOD) Professor Russell and D.A Huntley (with University of Cambridge and University of Liverpool) 1998–2001 ESPRC
Sediment and Water Movement in Industrialized Estuarine Environments (SWAMIEE) D.A. Huntley and Dr Davidson 1998–2001 EC
Intermediate Scale Behaviour: Measurement, Modelling and Prediction D.A. Huntley and Dr Davidson 1997–2001 US ONR (NICOP)
Inlet Dynamics Initiative - Algarve (INDIA) D.A. Huntley and Dr Davidson 1997–2001 EC
Surf and Swash Zone Mechanics (SASME) D.A. Huntley, P.A. Bird and Dr O`Hare 1997–2001 EC
Coastal Study of Three-Dimensional Sand Transport Processes and Morphodynamics (COAST3D) D.A. Huntley, P.A. Bird and Professor Russell 1997–2001 EC
Sand Transport on Macrotidal Beaches Professor Russell and D.A. Huntley 1994–1995 NERC