Understanding and predicting sandy beaches

News - 03 December 2019 - Communication

Sand is the second most widely used raw material in the world, after water. Sand dunes keep our country safe from flooding. In times of climate change, there is a growing need for measures to protect the coast. Sand specialist Arjen Luijendijk develops new techniques to predict the behaviour of sandy beaches more accurately and more quickly. On Wednesday 4 December, he will defend his PhD-thesis at Delft University of Technology.

Coastal protection
Traditionally, the Dutch coast has been an erosive one. For hundreds of years, the coast has retreated further and further. We have now built houses, harbours and infrastructure, but at the same time there are all kinds of sea level rise scenarios. PhD student Arjen Luijendijk: "It is possible that over the years the Netherlands will have a much higher water level. All Dutch beaches and dunes will have to be much higher in order to guarantee the same level of safety". 

In the most ideal and natural situation, the wind blows the sand out of the sea, and from the beach to the dunes. Luijendijk: "The beauty of sand is that it can grow with changing water levels and waves. The wind brings the sand up to the dunes, so that the coast is protected. If we start building more sand sooner, nature will have time to grow with the sea level rise." 

Designing landscapes
The interaction between land and water changes every hour, because the tide goes up and down. According to Luijendijk, it is precisely this dynamic of the tides that is important to gain insight into. "We have developed a new landscape model, which gives us knowledge of the distribution of sand. This will enable us to make predictions about the coastal landscape for the next 20 years. It allows us to calculate how much sand is needed on the coast, so that it remains safe."

More information
More information about the study can be found at https://www.arjenluijendijkphd.nl/
Sand specialist Arjen Luijendijk: +31 (0)88 33 58109, A.P.Luijendijk@tudelft.nl
Press officer Inge Snijder: +31 (0)15 27 87538, I.Snijder@tudelft.nl