REST-COAST partners from UPC publish three papers on seagrass meadows and coastal protection

18 June 2024

In the past year, researchers from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), under the REST-COAST initiative, have published three new research papers on the role of seagrass meadows in sediment transport and beach morphology:

In July 2023, Xavier Sánchez-Artús, Vicente Gracia, Manuel Espino, Joan Pau Sierra, Jordi Pinyol, and Agustín Sánchez-Arcilla published their findings in Frontiers in Marine Sciences. Their study assessed the vulnerability of the Catalan coast to erosion and flooding under current and future climate scenarios using the XBeach numerical model. Identifying sea level rise, coastal topography, and the presence of river mouths as critical factors, the research underscores the urgency for adaptive coastal management strategies to mitigate future risks.

In February 2024, Carlos Astudillo-Gutierrez, Vicente Gracia, Iván Cáceres, Joan Pau Sierra, and Agustín Sánchez-Arcilla explored the influence of seagrass meadow length on beach morphology. Published in the Science of the Total Environment, their flume experiments compared short and long surrogate meadows to a bare beach. The study revealed that longer meadows effectively attenuate wave height, reduce shoreline erosion, and control sediment transport, highlighting their superior efficacy in stabilizing coastlines.

Finally, in March 2024, Carlos Astudillo-Gutierrez, Iván Cáceres Rabionet, Vicente Gracia Garcia, Joan Pau Sierra Pedrico, and Agustín Sánchez-Arcilla published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. This research focused on how Posidonia Oceanica seagrass meadows modify wave-induced velocities and sediment transport. Conducted in a large-scale wave flume, the study demonstrated that these meadows alter wave patterns, leading to significant reductions in negative peak velocities and increases in positive peak velocities, thus playing a crucial role in mitigating sediment transport and enhancing coastal protection.

These studies represent critical advancements in understanding the complex interactions between seagrass ecosystems and coastal dynamics, providing valuable insights for future coastal management strategies and environmental conservation efforts.

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