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

Started: October 2016
Supervisor: Alsina, J.

Description of Research

Being continuously exposed to the energy of the incoming waves, beaches present highly dynamic natural sites. For many years, research efforts have been made to study the morphodynamic behaviour of beaches. However, changes in the environment caused by human activities, such as climate change or the changing use of the coastal area, have increased the beach vulnerability and require further, adapted studies.

To meet prospective demands for the understanding of beach morphodynamics, in this PhD project the response and resilience of beaches to sequential periods of storm conditions and low energy conditions are investigated. These conditions correspond respectively to periods of beach erosion and beach recovery. A particular focus of this research work present the far more poorly understood morphodynamic processes under low energy conditions.

Based on numerical studies combined with new detailed large-scale experimental data, this PhD project aims to provide further fundamental knowledge about beach morphodynamics in response to periodic storms and recovery processes. This knowledge will not only extend the understanding of the existing morphodynamic processes but it will also help to improve morphodynamic modelling of beaches for a better assessment of coastal risks.


Sonja holds an MSc degree in Environmental Engineering from RWTH Aachen University, Germany. The research for her MSc thesis she carried out at Imperial College London with Dr Jose Alsina investigating the evolution of beach profiles based on large-scale experimental data.

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