Extreme weather is causing increasingly wide-spread flooding in coastal areas, as the events in the Southern United States have shown. In research project BE SAFE, the University of Twente, TU Delft and marine research institute NIOZ are working on combining more natural ways of coastal protection with conventional dikes.
Vegetated foreshores, such as mud flats and wetlands, can potentially form a natural buffer which will lessen the impact of the waves before they reach the dike and the hinterland. Bigger mudflats would provide more protection, making the hinterland safer from flooding. Coastal areas would be better prepared for extreme weather conditions, such as high tide combined with strong winds and high waves. Maintaining and understanding the dynamics of naturally formed mud flats and wetlands is vital for coastal protection. In Houston urban sprawl has swallowed the low lying mud flats thereby strongly reducing their buffer capacity. This made it impossible for the area to process the extreme rainfall it had to cope with in the wake of hurricane Harvey.