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Ecosystem-based approaches to coastal Disaster Risk Reduction: new tools for numerical modelling and monitoring using Remote Sensing techniques (co-organized)
Convener: Paolo Ciavola  | Co-Conveners: Jenny Brown , Pushpa Dissanayake , Mindert de Vries , Andrea Ninfo 
 / Attendance Fri, 13 Apr, 17:30–19:00

Some of the major coastal disasters in the past decade have clearly demonstrated how nature has a primary role in reducing the impact of extreme coastal flooding events (storms and tsunamis), which produce a high cost to society as well as a threat to valuable ecosystems. After Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2014, the Government financed USD22 million for the restoration of mangroves along the affected coastlines as evidence grew showing that where coastal vegetation was present, this attenuated the magnitude of flooding. Similarly, following Hurricane Katrina the US government invested USD500 million for the restoration of coastal national parks and salt marshes, accepting the proofs that marshes helped to reduce the damage, in association with dike and levees. Thus, it is a prerequisite to propose that the reconstruction of ecosystems should be done before an event strikes, with a philosophy of prevention rather than a remedy, with a philosophy of recovery. In Europe too, many member states have started to promote the recreation of coastal wetlands, considering setback strategies as well as the reconstruction and vegetation of coastal dunes, which act as the first line of defence to flooding. As it is stated in the recently released EU-Science for Disaster Risk Management 2017 Report, a number of European Commission-funded demonstration projects are now supporting ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction, to prove the added value of such an approach compared with traditional engineering solutions. Within such a context engineering design is pushed towards eco-engineering through the use of living oyster reefs as dynamic coastal defences.

This new approach demands: the development of new tools to model and design these reconstructed environments; merging physical concepts like bed erosion and sediment transport with the parameterization of biologically-induced phenomena, such as the role of emerged and submerged vegetation in attenuating wave and current energy; as well as the role of microorganisms, plants and animals in stabilising/destabilising the morphology. This approach often requires the development of remote sensing techniques for monitoring the time evolution of the ecosystem in association with the morphological changes, ultimately providing a fundamental input to the models, for training, calibration and estimation of uncertainty in their outputs. This leads towards the concept of “Building with Nature”, which is becoming a nation-wide revolutionary approach to Integrated Coastal Zone.

The session welcomes contributions covering the model and monitoring aspects, including innovative approaches in coastal morphological models that account for the presence of the ecosystems, quantifying feed-back interactions between the physical and biological components. We welcome case-studies reporting recovery of the ecosystems and of the physical environment following major extremes such as tropical and extra-tropical storms, as well as tsunamis.

Remote Sensing applications based on scientific open-data access programmes by NASA, ESA and JAXA, are considered of particular interest for data mining, model feeding as well as monitoring of impact and recovery. Moreover the integration between sensors, open data and high-resolution topographic survey (e.g. Lidar, UAV sfm-photogrammetry) are particularly encouraged.