Impact summary

RIBS is the first-ever comprehensive investigation of rip current dynamics on large tidal beaches and will significantly contribute to our quantitative understanding and modelling capabilities of rip current systems. The academic beneficiaries of this research include researchers and modellers involved with nearshore morphodynamics, especially those concerned with surf zone processes, beach morphology and coastal change. The greater insight into rip dynamics obtained from this study will also be beneficial to those involved with managing beaches and their hazards, specifically the life saving community (hence involvement of partner RNLI).

The main beneficiary of knowledge arising from this research is the Partner, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), who will use the outputs of this research to inform beach risk assessments, resource management, operational lifeguarding aspects, lifeguard training and national public awareness campaigns.

This research will benefit both the strategic and operational aspects of the RNLI lifeguarding activities, and will help them provide a better service, which ultimately saves lives. Other potential beneficiaries include all other lifeguarding organisations in the UK (e.g., Surf Life Saving GB, Royal Life Saving Society UK, Irish Water Safety, coastal councils), as well as overseas (e.g., Surf Life Saving Australia, Surf Life Saving New Zealand. Last, but not least, the coastal research and engineering community will benefit from the new knowledge and understanding provided by this research, especially those researchers interested in beach processes and nearshore currents.

Summary of benefits of the project for the RNLI:

Public education

The project will provide scientific data and research to support and develop the RNLI’s key safety messages. This information can then be circulated to the public using national and regional media campaigns and safety awareness programmes such as Beachwise, the RNLI’s annual beach safety campaign.

The project will provide information and data to help support and deliver the RNLI’s Surfers Safety Clinic’s. These clinics are currently being developed to provide a one-day workshop for competent surfers, covering basic rescue skills to assist water users who find themselves in trouble when lifeguard services are unavailable (i.e., out of season, non patrolled beach etc…)

The project will raise the public’s awareness of rip currents and their associated dangers during experiments through pro-active media support and providing lifeguards with the knowledge to deliver key information to the beach going public.

Lifeguard training

A series of regional lectures/workshops will follow the project, providing vital Rip related information/data to lifeguards, lifesaving clubs, beach managers and other interested bodies/persons. UoP and RNLI personnel will jointly deliver the lectures/workshops.

The full time lifeguards conference will also provide a good platform to deliver the key findings of the project to a wide audience. This will allow full time managers and supervisors to gain a good overview of the project whilst providing enough key information to cascade down to their lifeguards during local lifeguard inductions.

Information will be used to update Rip information within lifeguard training manuals and rescue techniques. Currently there is very little information specific to rip related hazards within lifeguard training manuals and practices (rips account for the largest environmental cause of incident).

Risk assessment and management planning

The project will provide robust and supporting evidence to develop rip hazard scenarios under different beach templates (e.g., with and without structures) to integrate within the RNLI’s current risk assessment systems. This will help to identify suitable control measures to reduce the risks of injury and deaths associated with rip currents.

Rip classification and hazard identification & rip hazard/risk prediction tools for resource management will help the RNLI better resource its rescue assets and personnel. With greater knowledge of rip related hazards and their identification, the RNLI will be better placed to manage beaches safely, keeping the public as safe as possible, whilst also ensuring its lifeguards are suitably trained.