UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Dr Deborah Villarroel-Lamb

Honorary Research Associate

Dept of Civil, Environ &Geomatic Eng

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Jul 2011

Research summary

The current research is focused on the numerical modelling of coastal processes that are linked to coastal morphology. Currently, only physical processes are modelled, such as wave transformation, wave breaking, undertow currents, energy dissipation and sediment transport. However, the intention is to model anthropogenic activities also, such as sand-mining and coastal structure interaction. After validation on the given coastline, the model is used to predict shoreline positions over a given period of time. Although, the focus is on long-term (greater than 10 years) morphology for beach management and planning purposes, the model can also be used to predict short-term (days to months) and medium-term (months to years) beach changes. Changes in sea level and storm frequency and intensity are included in the model for use in model predictions. This model feature is incorporated so that climate change aspects that are linked with significant shoreline changes can be included in the beach predictions. Shoreline changes are investigated in a probabilistic manner so that the model yields a probability distribution of possible shoreline positions. This distribution of shoreline positions provides a planning tool for the management of beaches. The ultimate goal is for the model to be used in the coastal erosion hazard risk assessment on beaches. Further application of the model includes the description of the flooding hazard that may or may not be associated with the coastal erosion. This involves further enhancement of the numerical model, but primarily requires the determination of the vulnerability and replacement costs of coastal assets and calculating quantitatively the risk associated with flooding and coastal erosion.