RealDune – Dune erosion during mega storms

In the Netherlands, coastal areas have always been attractive to live in. Half of the Dutch population and over two-thirds of the economic value is in coastal areas below the mean sea level. Along a stretch of approximately 254 km, dunes act as the primary sea defence during storm surges. These dunes have to meet the strong safety requirements laid up by the Dutch government.

To assess these safety requirements, an accurate prediction of the amount of dune erosion is indispensable. The current toolset of the Dutch government to model dune erosion during storm surges originates from 1986 and is called Duros+. It is fully empirical and based on dune erosion experiments conducted in the Deltaflume. Because of its antiquity and empirical nature, the Dutch government has decided to replace the Duros+ model with the process-based XBeach model. However, there are still uncertainties and unknowns within XBeach that need further clarification. During this PhD research, these uncertainties will be investigated. A full-scale dune will be built and monitored on the Sand Engine near Kijkduin. The experimental results will be compared with XBeach model outcomes, after which this model can be further updated or adjusted if necessary.

The main research areas within XBeach that will be investigated are:

  1. Coastal curvature and wave obliquity
  2.  Sediment grain size
  3. The presence of hard structures within a coastal protection system.

Partners of this research project are (in Dutch):

  • Rijkswaterstaat
  • Stichting Toegepast Onderzoek Waterbeheer (STOWA)
  • Technische Universiteit Delft
  • Het Topconsortium voor Kennis en Innovatie (TKI) Deltatechnologie
  • Deltares
  • Arcadis
  • Witteveen+Bos.


If you have any questions about the RealDune project, please contact Paul van Wiechen ( The project is supervised by Sierd de Vries ( and Stefan Aarninkhof (

Aerial photograph of the Sand Engine: beeldbank Rijkswaterstaat
Figure of the dune erosion profile: van Thiel de Vries, J. S. M. (2009). Dune erosion during storm surges. PhD thesis, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands.