Physical and biological dynamic coastal processes and their role in coastal recovery (BLUE-coast)

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Biology

Abstract

The BLUE-coast consortium addresses NERC highlight topic B, Coastal morphology: coastal sediment budgets and their role in coastal recovery. This project will adopt a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, combining the expertise of biologists, coastal engineers, geologists, geomorphologists and oceanographers with complementary experimental (field and laboratory) and numerical skills, to understand what processes control the coastal system dynamics and answer the relevant scientific questions.
BLUE-coast will explicitly address uncertainties in the prediction of medium-term (years) and long -term (decadal and longer) regional sediment budgets and better understand morphological change and how the coast recovers after sequences of events, such as storms by: (i) improving representation of both transportable and source material within the coastal zone within models; (ii) establishing how transportable material is mediated by the ecological system using exemplar habitats representative of the UK coastal zone; (iii) assessing sensitivities of this mixed-sediment physical and biological system to possible changes in external forcing, including the combined impact of multiple variables and sequences of events, with the goal of understanding the internal dynamics of the system (e.g. nonlinearities, critical thresholds, tipping points, precursors and antecedent conditions) in parallel with assessments of behavioural uncertainties, and (iv) reduce uncertainties in medium to long -term prediction of regional sediment budgets and morphological change.
Project Overview: the scope of the Highlight Topic sets a requirement for quantitative knowledge on both physical and biological dynamic coastal processes in order to improve hydrodynamic model predictions of regional sediment budgets and morphological change. To deliver an integrated, holistic and cost effective response, our main activities will combine (i) a detailed study of representative shelf sea landscapes that spans the full variety of organism-sediment conditions typically observed in temperate coasts, with (ii) in situ validation studies of key processes, and (iii) manipulative laboratory and field experiments aimed at unambiguously identifying causal relationships and establishing generality, and (iv) integration of new understanding of controls and effects on coastal morphodynamics at regional scales and under environmental forcing. By undertaking a substantial element of in situ observation and process studies, we will directly quantify the effect of antecedent conditions on coastal erosion and recovery, the effect of biota on mediating sediment fluxes and pathways and the effect of event sequencing on coastal erosion and recovery, across a range of geographically significant sediment habitats. These data will act as calibration and validation datasets for existing and innovative numerical models that will be able to simulate the coastal morphological consequences of key biological and physical drivers, alone and in combination. We will gain mechanistic understanding and achieve generality by performing carefully controlled experiments, generating different flow regimes using flumes, tracking changes during natural events using state-of-the-art field measurement technology and, in the laboratory, using intact sediments and sediment communities exposed to anticipated future conditions (warming, ocean acidification, nutrient loading). As it is not feasible to quantify all the relevant morphodynamic processes at high spatial resolution across the entire UK coast, our approach is to address the principal objectives through 4 interdisciplinary workpackages that follow a logical progression of scientific themes.

Planned Impact

Our research will deliver improved predictions of coastal erosion in different coastal habitats, along with modelling tools to better understand coastal recovery and to understand the implications of climate change for coastal systems. We will provide evidence-based advice for different options for coastal protection and management. We will engage with stakeholders at the national (e.g. Defra, Environment Agency), regional (e.g. District Councils, Internal Drainage Boards, Regional Flood and Coastal Committees) and local level (e.g. community groups, coastal flood fora, the public) using workshops, web-based material, newsletters and an end-of-project roadshow. We will also engage with non-government organisations associated with coastal land management (e.g. National Trust, Crown Estate) or with interests in protecting specific coastal marine species or habitats (e.g. Wildlife Trusts, RSPB). We will produce a series of short accessible videos having adopted the technique successfully before. Management of the project's impacts will be under the newly created Institute for Sustainable Coasts and Oceans at Liverpool. We will produce an annual project newsletter and the communications teams of all institutes will be proactive with regular press releases for both national and regional media opportunities, especially focusing on local media in the three 'coastal type' areas where our fieldwork activities will take place. We will develop a programme of engagement based around interactive activities at community events, visits and school project work and will target 'hard to reach' sectors of the community through exploring partnerships with organizations such as the Active Learning Partnership.
We will disseminate our final results at a mobile roadshow that spend a day at a key location within each Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. This "Moving Coastlines Show" will culminate close to London where we will invite national level stakeholders (e.g. Defra, Environment Agency, Natural England) and stage a question-time style debate. The KE officer (NOC) will work closely with the Knowledge Exchange expertise at each institute to monitor and ensure timely delivery of outreach and impact. Quantitative measures of success will include numbers of people participating in engagement events; participation in our "Moving Coastlines Show"; usage of our online materials; and by using YouTube Analytics for our public outreach material, as well as the number of media articles generated. Policy impact will be gauged by the influence that our work has on strategic environmental planning, but success in this area would be maximized by changes in coastal planning attributable to our project, particularly in the guidance for Shoreline Management Plans.
 
Description Very early but trail data being assessed for field campaigns
Exploitation Route Mainly modelling of coastal dynamics and interest from regulators and NGO bodies
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment

 
Title EPS analysis 
Description Using u=new method for determing low levels of polymer of floc material from estuaries 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Data fro papers in prep 
 
Description Communication with Myriam A. Barbeau, Ph.D. 
Organisation University of New Brunswick
Department Department of Biology
PI Contribution Discussing aspect of microbial ecology in an intertidal setting. Examining possibilities of future reach
Collaborator Contribution New trophic analysis of inter-dependancies on mudflat system we have formally worked on
Impact None yet multidisciplinary ecology and physical dynamics
Start Year 2018
 
Description Floc characterisation of estuarine samples 
Organisation HR Wallingford Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution All biological processing and characterisation has been carried out by USTAN. All field work equipment provided by USTAN. Mass spectroscopy to determine sugar composition of samples will be performed by USTAN. Analysis of relationships between floc characteristics and biological data performed by USTAN. New technology and an innovative approach to examining floc structure and function from Prof Kate Spencer for visualising flocs and a new NERC proposal examining the role of organic molecules on the formation of flocs in the presence of xenobiotic compounds, being considered by NERC this year (2018)
Collaborator Contribution Use of the Labsfloc imaging suite and the expertise provided by Professor Andy Manning.
Impact Presented at AGU conference. Forms a chapter in PhD Thesis Technical report for HR Wallingford consultancy in preparation. Article in preparation Analysis still ongoing Biological and sedimentological disciplines New interdisciplinary NERC proposal (2018)
Start Year 2014
 
Description Floc characterisation of estuarine samples 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Department School of Geography
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All biological processing and characterisation has been carried out by USTAN. All field work equipment provided by USTAN. Mass spectroscopy to determine sugar composition of samples will be performed by USTAN. Analysis of relationships between floc characteristics and biological data performed by USTAN. New technology and an innovative approach to examining floc structure and function from Prof Kate Spencer for visualising flocs and a new NERC proposal examining the role of organic molecules on the formation of flocs in the presence of xenobiotic compounds, being considered by NERC this year (2018)
Collaborator Contribution Use of the Labsfloc imaging suite and the expertise provided by Professor Andy Manning.
Impact Presented at AGU conference. Forms a chapter in PhD Thesis Technical report for HR Wallingford consultancy in preparation. Article in preparation Analysis still ongoing Biological and sedimentological disciplines New interdisciplinary NERC proposal (2018)
Start Year 2014
 
Description Floc characterisation of estuarine samples 
Organisation University of Hull
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All biological processing and characterisation has been carried out by USTAN. All field work equipment provided by USTAN. Mass spectroscopy to determine sugar composition of samples will be performed by USTAN. Analysis of relationships between floc characteristics and biological data performed by USTAN. New technology and an innovative approach to examining floc structure and function from Prof Kate Spencer for visualising flocs and a new NERC proposal examining the role of organic molecules on the formation of flocs in the presence of xenobiotic compounds, being considered by NERC this year (2018)
Collaborator Contribution Use of the Labsfloc imaging suite and the expertise provided by Professor Andy Manning.
Impact Presented at AGU conference. Forms a chapter in PhD Thesis Technical report for HR Wallingford consultancy in preparation. Article in preparation Analysis still ongoing Biological and sedimentological disciplines New interdisciplinary NERC proposal (2018)
Start Year 2014
 
Description Floc characterisation of estuarine samples 
Organisation University of Plymouth
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All biological processing and characterisation has been carried out by USTAN. All field work equipment provided by USTAN. Mass spectroscopy to determine sugar composition of samples will be performed by USTAN. Analysis of relationships between floc characteristics and biological data performed by USTAN. New technology and an innovative approach to examining floc structure and function from Prof Kate Spencer for visualising flocs and a new NERC proposal examining the role of organic molecules on the formation of flocs in the presence of xenobiotic compounds, being considered by NERC this year (2018)
Collaborator Contribution Use of the Labsfloc imaging suite and the expertise provided by Professor Andy Manning.
Impact Presented at AGU conference. Forms a chapter in PhD Thesis Technical report for HR Wallingford consultancy in preparation. Article in preparation Analysis still ongoing Biological and sedimentological disciplines New interdisciplinary NERC proposal (2018)
Start Year 2014
 
Description Najing University, China 
Organisation Nanjing University (NJU)
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Visited Nanjing University and established links with them for future research work and reciprocal visits. College of Harbour, Coastal Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China Paper submitted Hindered erosion: The biological mediation of non-cohesive sediment behaviour X. D. Chen1, C. K. Zhang1, D. M. Paterson2, C. E. L. Thompson3, I. H. Townend4, Z. Gong1, Z. Zhou1 and Q. Feng5,6 Submitted
Collaborator Contribution Discussion of research methods, help in drafting papers and considering interpretation of results
Impact Chen XD, Zhang CK, Zhou Z, Gong Z, Zhou1 JJ, Tao JF, Paterson DM, Feng Q 2017. Stabilizing effects of bacterial biofilms: EPS penetration and redistribution of bed stability down the sediment profile. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, 22: 3113-3125. DOI: 10.1002/2017JG004050 Chen, XD, Zhang, CK, Paterson, DM, Thompson, CEL, Townend, IH, Gong, Z, Zhou, Z & Feng, Q 2017, 'Hindered erosion: the biological mediation of noncohesive sediment behavior' Water Resources Research, vol Early View. DOI: 10.1002/2016WR020105
Start Year 2016
 
Description EuroMarine Workshop, 2016 Linking biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services: a comparison between temperate and tropical seagrass meadows, Sete.with Claire Gollety 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact European workshop to plan future ITN proposal (in prep)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited Keynote Campus Do Mar Oceans Day 2016 One for all.The basis of interdisciplinary Science University of Tras os Montes and Alto Duro, Portugal 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Campus Do Mar Oceans Day 2016, annual event for Ph.d students and marine scientists
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Keynote ISRS , Stuttgart Germany 2016 Form, function and physics D. M. Paterson, J. M. Kenworthy Scottish Ocean Institute, School of Biology, University of St Andrews J. A. Hope, S.U. Gerbersdorf Institute for modelling hydraulic and environmental systems, University of Stuttgart 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International research conference key note speech highlighting UK research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Schools visit; Royal High school edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Explain the broad reach of biological research and potential career using examples of exiting programmes CBESS, COHBED and BLUE-COAST, also presentation by current Ph.D student on blue carbon economy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016