Impact of storms on coastlines: preparing for the future without forgetting the past? Examples from Europe, USA and Bangladesh

Wednesday 10 February 2016 - 14:00 to 15:00
NOC Liverpool - Nicholson Lecture Theatre (University of Liverpool).
Prof Paolo Ciavola

Severe storms have historically affected European and world coastlines and the impact of each storm has been evaluated in different ways in different countries, often using local socio-economic impact criteria (e.g. loss of lives and damage to properties). Although the Xynthia storm was the largest European coastal disasters of the last 50 years, with 47 people killed in France only, similar events have previously impacted Europe. The 1953 storm surge in the North Sea, which resulted in over 2000 deaths and extensive flooding across the Netherlands, England, Belgium and Scotland, was the starting point of flood defence schemes that were constructed afterwards. On a longer timescale, we discover the impact of the very extreme storm of 1634 AD that devastated the Wadden Sea causing thousands of deaths along the coast. Historical records can provide an important source of help. Thus, there is scope for using historical records in a better way or for recreating complete time series.

The work to be presented was collected with the support of the EU RISC-KIT (Resilience-Increasing Strategies for Coasts - toolKIT) Project.  RISC-KIT ( is a EU FP7 Collaborative project that will develop methods, tools and management approaches to reduce risk and increase resilience to low frequency, high-impact hydro-meteorological events in the coastal zone. These products will enhance forecasting, prediction and early warning capabilities, improve the assessment of long-term coastal risk and optimize the mix of prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures.

In the talk we will analyse historical large-scale events on the case study sites of the Norfolk Coast (UK), the Charente-Vendée coast (France), the Cinque Terre-Liguria (Italy), the Emilia-Romagna coast (Italy) and the Ria Formosa coast (Portugal). In addition to these European cases, knowledge derived from recurrent high magnitude events like hurricanes and typhoons will provide an important understanding of the interaction between DRR elements such as prevention, mitigation and preparedness, and resilience. Thus, the talk will be extended to non-European examples from areas exposed to tropical storms: tropical cyclones in Bangladesh, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and along the eastern coast of the United States.

Seminar category: