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THESEUS: Innovative technologies for safer European coasts in a changing climate

Type of Entry: Project
Website: www.theseusproject.eu/
Duration: 01/12/2009 - 30/11/2013

Coastal areas are great zones of settlement and play a vital role in the wealth of many nations. The European Union’s coastline extends for some 17,000 km across 20 of 27 Member States and coastal areas cover about 2 million km². Over the past 50 years the population living in European coastal municipalities has more than doubled to reach 70 million inhabitants in 2001. The total value of economic assets located within 500 meters of the European coastline was estimated at between € 500 and 1,000 billion in 2000.


The project evolves from four key observations:

  1. Large stretches of the European coasts, which are highly populated and economically essential, are already threatened by coastal erosion and flooding;
  2. Climate change and sea-level rise (based on the SRES scenarios in the range 0.2-0.8 m/century) will increase the frequency and severity of flooding and erosion events, while socio-economic changes are increasing the threatened assets;
  3. Historic approaches to managing these risks are inconsistent with the Habitats Directive as they maintain human safety at the expense of coastal habitats;
  4. Europe has not yet developed an integrated approach for the assessment and management of these growing erosion and flood risks that addresses these multiple human and environmental challenges.

In recent times, coastal protection and water management in coastal lowlands has been concerned to 'keep  water out', 'defend property from water' and 'live on dry land'. Globally, and especially in parts of Europe, there has been a change in attitude towards coastal protection in response to the growing risk and uncertainty generated by climate change. The future of flood protection is in part a return to the past, with the focus being shifted to 'making space for water', or techniques that allow some areas to be sacrificially flooded. Traditional technical flood and erosion defences have shown their limits. First, traditional coastal defences had to cope with their environmental and socio-economic implications. Moreover, what society expects from defences is changing (e.g. widespread moves from hard to soft defences to 'hold the line'), and these needs will continue to evolve (e.g., the potential for widespread application of surf reefs), and at the same time, climate change is increasing risks.
Keywords: Climate change, Coastal erosion, Flood Risk Management, Research and development, Sea level
Contact: Ms. Barbara Zanuttigh
DISTART - University of Bologna
Viale Risorgimento
40136 Bologna
Telephone: +390512093754
Fax: +390512093263
E-Mail: barbara.zanuttigh@unibo.it
Website: http://www.unibo.it/docenti/barbara.zanuttigh
Partner: Alma Matra Studiorum - Universita di Bologna
Universidad de Cantabria
University of Plymouth
Aalborg Universitet
INFRAM International BV
Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research
University of Southampton
Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines
Centre d'Etudes Techniques Maritimes Et Fluviale
Middelsex University Higher Education Corporation
Instytut Meteorologii I Gospodarki Wodnej
Insitute of Oceanology - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Athens University of Economics and Business - Research Center
Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Consorzio per la qestione del centro di coordinamento delle attivita di ricercainerenti il sistema lagunare di Venezia
Instytut Budownicta Wodnego Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Bangor University
Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Miniéres
Hamburg Port Authority
EID- Mediterranée
Latvijas Universitate
Instituto Superiore per la Ricerca e la Protezione Ambientale
Vlaams Instituut Voor De Zee
Aristotelio Panepistimio Thessalonikis
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Marine hydrophysical Institute - Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences
P.P. Shirshov Insitute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences
University of Delaware
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
East China Normal University
National Cheng Kung University
Budget: 6.530.000