Influence of sea level rise, storm sequencing and beach recovery on sediment transport and beach resilience

Started: October 2016
Supervisor: Christou, M.; Alsina, J.

Description of Research

Beaches present natural barriers against the ocean wave impact and inundation. For many years, research efforts have been made to study the morphodynamic behaviour of beaches with a primary focus on the erosive impact of individual storms on beaches. However, changes in the environment, such as climate change or the changing use of the coastal area, lead to differing coastal impacts and require further, adapted studies.

An important environmental change in the coastal area associated with climate change is the potential increase in storminess, i.e. storm intensity and frequency, which may lead to an increased erosion risk at the coast. Therefore, in this PhD project, the response and resilience of beaches to sequential periods of high (storm) and low energy wave conditions, i.e. storm sequences, are investigated.

Based on new large-scale experimental data and high-resolution field measurements, this PhD project aims to provide further fundamental knowledge about beach morphodynamics in response to periodic storms and recovery processes. This knowledge will extend the understanding of the existing morphodynamic processes and feedback and it will ultimately be important for a better assessment of coastal risks.

Peer-reviewed journal publications

Eichentopf, S., Alsina, J.M., Christou, M., Kuriyama, Y., Karunarahna, H. (2020): Storm sequencing and beach profile variability at Hasaki, Japan. Marine Geology 424, 106153 . [Open Access]

Eichentopf, S., van der Zanden, J., Cáceres, I., Baldock, T.E., Alsina, J.M. (2020): Influence of storm sequencing on breaker bar and shoreline evolution in large-scale experiments. Coastal Engineering 157, 103659.

Eichentopf, S., van der Zanden, J., Cáceres, I., Alsina, J.M. (2019): Beach profile evolution towards equilibrium from varying initial morphologies. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 7(11), 406. [Open Access]

Eichentopf, S., Karunarathna, H., Alsina, J.M. (2019): Morphodynamics of sandy beaches under the influence of storm sequences – current research status and future needs. Water Science and Engineering 12(3). [Open Access]

van der Zanden, J., Cáceres, I., Eichentopf, S., van der Werf, J.J., Ribberink, J.S., Alsina, J.M. (2019): Sand transport processes and bed level changes induced by two alternating laboratory swash events. Coastal Engineering 152, 103519.

Eichentopf, S., Cáceres, I., Alsina, J.M. (2018): Breaker bar morphodynamics under erosive and accretive wave conditions in large-scale experiments. Coastal Engineering 138, 36-48. [Open Access link:]

Conference proceedings

Eichentopf, S., Baldock, T.E., Cáceres, I., Hurther, D., Karunarathna, H., Postacchini, M., Ranieri, N., van der Zanden, J., Alsina, J.M., 2019. Influence of storm sequencing and beach recovery on sediment transport and beach resilience (RESIST). In: Proceedings of the HYDRALAB+ Joint User Meeting. Bucharest, pp. 247-256. []


Sonja holds an MSc degree in Environmental Engineering from RWTH Aachen University, Germany. During her MSc programme she spent study and research periods at Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and Tsinghua University Beijing, China. The research for her MSc thesis she carried out at Imperial College London with Dr José Alsina studying large-scale morphodynamic data on beach profile evolution.

Sonja EIchentopfPhD Candidate - Fluid Mechanics 
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering 
Imperial College London SW7 2AZ