Coastal Systems & Engineering and Port Development

The Coastal Systems and Engineering and Port Development Chair Group deals with the analysis, design and management of natural and man-made systems in the coastal environment. It deals with the defence, protection and management of coastal zones and the planning and the design of ports and harbours.

Typical aspects include marine dredging and the design of coastal structures such as breakwaters and dikes. The Coastal Engineering Specialization includes coastal erosion, beach protection and nourishment. The Port Development specialization includes nautical operations and logistics.

The Chair Group also aims at improving hydrodynamic and morphological prediction skills that are essential in multidisciplinary environmental impact studies related to large-scale land reclamation or access channel deepening. It also focuses on assessing the effects of sea level rise and climate change on coastal areas, including inlets and estuaries.


2018 has been an interesting year, with lots of travel and projects in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, Ivory Coast, Sao Tome, Indonesia, Australia and the USA, to name a few. More and more we are asked to apply not only our modelling expertise, which remains a core strength, but also our broader know-how on coastal erosion, climate adaptation and risk assessment, to pressing issues worldwide. We bring these experiences back to the classroom and find inspiration to improve our models, such as XBeach, now a world standard for storm impact assessment on dune coasts; to develop further the Probabilistic Coastline Recession (PCR) model; to help develop the Delft3D Flexible Mesh for barrier islands and coral coasts, and to develop new paradigms for coastline modelling, ShorelineS, and for climate change driven coastline change along inlet interrupted coasts, SMIC, both applicable to complex sandy coasts. More and more we develop an understanding of mangrove coasts, through coastal protection projects and fundamental PhD research.

We led an ADB funded project on coastal risk assessment in Sri Lanka which resulted in the determination of economically optimal setback lines along a 200 km stretch of the coastline. Furthermore, we contributed heavily to the EU RISC-KIT project led by Deltares that aimed to quantify coastal risk and to design disaster risk reduction measures using techniques both from engineering and social sciences; based onthis and other projects we have strengthened our portfolio in quantitative assessment of coastal vulnerability and development of Disaster Risk Reduction strategies and operational forecasting. Climate change and its impact on the coast challenges our and upcoming generations. In our education and research we have put more emphasis on assessing climate change impacts via developing coastal vulnerability, impact and risk assessment tools and modeling efforts on tidal flat survival under sea level rise scenarios. In light of the grave challenges that our coasts and coastal populations are facing this is an excellent time to deepen your knowledge and hone your coastal skills in an international setting where teachers and students from developing and developed countries meet and interact to work towards sustainable coasts and ports.


In the taught part of our 1.5 year MSc programme we are launching two new modules that reflect core strengths of our team:

  • - Climate change impacts and adaptation in coastal areas. In this new module we look at the climate system and climate change and its impacts on the coastal system; on the specific effects on ports and maritime operations, and ways to deal with them, e.g. through the green port concept; and on coastal hazards and risk assessment, including quantitative risk assessment and stakeholder engagement in decision making.
  • - Process-based coastal modelling. In this intensive, hands-on course you will be immersed in the Delft school of modelling coastal hydrodynamics and morphology, from setting up a regional model to simulating wave penetration in ports, storm impacts on dunes, complex morphodynamics on timescales of years and advanced shoreline modelling, taught by the developers and practitioners of world-leading systems such as Delft3D,  XBeach and ShorelineS.

International fieldtrip and fieldwork in Portugal

After last year’s successful field work in the Ria Formosa in southern Portugal we will organize both the international fieldtrip and the CEPD fieldwork in Portugal, which offers stunning coastal features, a range of natural and engineered beaches, severe erosion problems, ports in extremely challenging places and a range of dams, irrigation works and other water-related infrastructure. The fieldwork takes place at Ancao Inlet, a small, highly mobile tidal inlet next to long sandy beaches and dunes, where it is easy to make observations of all the fascinating processes that shape our coasts. Keywords for this fieldwork are independence and improvisation; it covers the design of a measurement scheme, execution, data retrieval and a first analysis.


Staff and PhD update

Last year we welcomed Dr Alvaro Semedo as a full-time senior researcher in our group. Alvaro does research in meteorology, climatology and oceanography and is active in a number of international networks and projects, like the WRCP COWCLIP project, and most recently the ESA SKIM project. He works closely with other members in our group on downscaling wave climates and assessing climate change effects; he lectures in Waves and Tides. Also, two postdocs started working in our group: Dr Trang Duong, in numerical modelling of coastal sediment transport and climate change impacts on coasts, and Dr Aysun Koroglu – Dogan who works on developing a coastal vulnerability index. This brings our staff to ten people, approx. 6.fte. Throughout 2017 we also hosted Assoc. Prof Keiko Udo from Tohoku Univ, Japan which has led to a new strong professional link between CSEPD and The International Research Institute of Disaster Science at Tohoku University, Japan.

On June 4th 2018, Liqin Zuo succesfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Modelling and analysis of fine sediment transport in wave-current bottom boundary layer". Liqin will now return to China PR where he will continue working for Nanjing Hydraulics. Also Sebrian Beselly Putra joined us as new PhD candidate. He will be working on mudflat and mangrove progradation in Porong Estuary, East Java, Indonesia as the result of vulcanic mud eruptions in the hinterland. We wish him good luck!

Book: Design and construction of berm breakwaters

Prof. Van der Meer, the successor of prof. Ligteringen, published a book in 2016 on Design and Construction of Berm Breakwaters, together with co-author Sigurdur Sigurdarson from Iceland. Berm breakwaters may be a useful and economically attractive alternative if good quarries are present near the location of the project. By optimal blasting at quarries it is often possible to achieve rock well above 10 t and even 20 t, rock sizes that are hardly used in design of conventional rock structures. This book gives scientific background, but also practical design rules, application in examples and description of constructed breakwaters. The book is available at World Scientific and more information can be found at:

AXA Chair in Climate change impacts and Coastal risk

The AXA Chair in Climate change impacts and Coastal risk (CC&CR) at IHE Delft was launched in January 2014 with the granting of an endowed Chair following a successful proposal submitted to the AXA research fund.

Visit the website here.

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