NERC Funded Industrial Placement: Coastal Risk Management at Ove Arup

Third year PhD student Jamie Pollard recently completed a 3-month NERC-funded industrial placement with engineering consultancy firm Ove Arup. Jamie’s PhD seeks to establish the varied ways in which coastal erosion and flooding interact and the implications for risk management at the coast. This placement provided an opportunity to gain insight to the commercial aspects of coastal risk management, working with Arup’s Water Team, based in Leeds.

Future coastal flood risk is highly uncertain. Latest research suggests that if global warming continues unabated, and upper tier sea level scenarios are realised, then annual losses could exceed US $27 trillion (Jevrejeva et al., 2018). Coastal flood risk management requires an understanding of future extreme water levels, coastal defence standards, funding and partnership opportunities and the political saliency of flood defence investments. One area of coastal risk management that Arup is particularly interested in is our ability to accurately quantify uncertainty in each of these stages. Simply put: where do the largest uncertainties lie and how do these uncertainties influence the decisions that are made at the coast?

Another major coastal project that Arup are involved in is the European Space Agency’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development initiative ( Arup is working with satellite data analysis firms to develop a selection of core Earth Observation services. Working with institutions such as the World Bank, African and Asian Development Banks, these services will facilitate coastal development with a particular focus on Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’. Key services include: coastal bathymetry mapping, monitoring of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, assessment of coastal infrastructure status and marine protected area planning. An example of the services to be targeted is presented in the figure below.

A selection of Earth Observation applications for Western Africa

A selection of Earth Observation applications for Western Africa

Maier, H. R., Guillaume, J. H. A., van Delden, H., Riddell, G. A., Haasnoot, M., & Kwakkel, J. H. (2016). An uncertain future, deep uncertainty, scenarios, robustness and adaptation: How do they fit together? Environmental Modelling and Software, 81, 154–164.
Jevrejeva, S., Jackson, L. P., Grinsted, A., Lincke, D., Marzeion, B. (2018) Flood damage costs under the sea level rise with warming of 1.5 °C and 2 °C. Environmental Research Letters, 13 (7).