By the year 2100, Australian infrastructure valued at more than $226 billion will be vulnerable to erosion from waves and sea level rise. With beaches also playing a key role in tourism and sandy coastal dunes supporting important biodiverse environments, effective coastal management and planning is critical.  

An international team of researchers, led by UNSW’s Kristen Splinter and Ian Turner, is responding to this challenge by studying the impact of water infiltration and soil moisture content on actively eroding coastal dunes. 

UNSW Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD Candidate Stefano Conti and Taste of Research Students Emily Booth and Dominique Djaidiguna have been busy over the summer as Sydney emerges from lockdown, spending time in the labs at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory. Through a series of controlled laboratory experiments, the team is using innovative instrumentation to obtain continuous measurements of wave-dune interactions, dune profile evolution, and water infiltration to generate much-needed understanding of fundamental dune erosion processes. 

Project collaborators include Dr. Margaret Palmsten (United States Geological Survey) and A/Prof Giovanni Coco (University of  Auckland). This project is funded through the Australian Research Council Discovery Program.