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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R024553/1
Title: Newton Fund: Applying nature-based coastal defence to the world's largest urban area - from science to practice
Principal Investigator: Li, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil Engineering and Industrial Design
Organisation: University of Liverpool
Scheme: Newton Fund
Starts: 01 February 2018 Ends: 30 July 2021 Value (£): 111,626
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Coastal & Waterway Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment Water
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Project Summary:

Nature-based coastal defence solutions have increasingly been recognized as more sustainable alternatives to conventional engineering approaches against climate change. In deltas undergoing fast urbanization, applying nature-based solutions can lead to space competition with other land uses, e.g. land-reclamations. For optimized management, the question of how much space is required by nature-based solutions is important. However, our current knowledge is insufficient in ecosystem size-dependent defence-value and resilience. Additionally, we are lacking insights into ecosystem creation for coastal defence, as previous restoration efforts have suffered low success rates.

The current proposal aims to develop process-based understanding and predictive models of ecosystem size requirements and how to create ecosystems for coastal defence, using the world's largest urban area, Pearl River Delta, China, as a model system. Delta-scale mangrove area monitoring and hydrodynamic modelling will be conducted to study wetland area changes and optimization of ecosystem spaces for defence, under contrasting scenarios of climate change and land-reclamations.

This large-scaled study will also provide underpinning boundary conditions for local-scaled experiments and modelling. A set of experiments using novel instruments will be conducted to improve our insights on the processes influencing mangrove defence-value and lateral dynamics. Innovative measures of using dredging materials and oyster reefs to facilitate mangrove establishment will also be tested experimentally. Local-scaled models will incorporate the obtained experimental knowledge to predict mangrove biogeomorphic dynamics and provide guidelines for management. The developed models and knowledge will be directly applied in the design of a pilot eco-dike project in collaboration with our partners.

Summary of the UK applicants' proposed contribution to the project:

The focus of the study is on coastal zone management, including management of sediment and nature-based flood defence. The UK applicants will lead Work Task 1: Wetland area monitoring/hydrodynamic modelling. This work task will provide an over-view of the bio-physical conditions, including the morphological and land-use aspects of the Pearl River Delta and its regional setting.

The UK team will implement a high resolution unstructured-grid model (FVCOM) for the Pearl River Delta (PRD) for hydrodynamics, waves and sediment transport which will provide the interface between the larger scale atmospheric and oceanic boundary conditions and the smaller-scale process studies and ecosystem modelling to be carried out by our Dutch and Chinese partners.

We will also address some objectives within focus area 1 (Resilient urban planning and management) in terms of combining spatial planning and disaster management by optimizing land use, institutions and mechanisms for more sustainable urbanisation, exploring eco-dynamic design options to provide opportunities for nature as part of urban development processes and reducing urban footprints and developing performance evaluation systems to mitigate environmental impacts. We will explore opportunities to apply management decision tools, such as those recently developed in the EPSRC ARCoES project.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.liv.ac.uk