Coastal engineering

Water Research Laboratory - Coastal engineering

WRL is widely regarded as the birthplace of Coastal Engineering in Australia. Our site on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is home to the largest coastal hydraulics research laboratory facilities in Australia.

We are experts in:

  • Coastal process research and understanding
  • Coastal hazard definition and inundation studies
  • Coastal zone management and climate change adaptation
  • Foreshore revetment design and testing
  • Impact assessment of nearshore coastal structures on beach planform
  • Dredging and beach nourishment
  • Design optimisation of coastal structures, harbours, ports and marinas
  • ‘Real time’ coastal monitoring and measurement using leading-edge coastal imaging techniques, UAVs and Lidar
  • Forensic coastal engineering
  • Expert peer review

Investigations utilising state-of-the-art technologies in both numerical (spectral and phase resolving wave) and physical (2D flume and 3D basin) model studies include wave generation and propagation, wave run-up and overtopping, wave forces and stability of coastal structures, littoral sediment transport, tidal hydrodynamics and entrance stability, coastal and estuarine morphology, beach and shoreline erosion and estuarine sedimentation. Automated coastal imaging techniques and our fleet of UAVs are utilised for both pre- during and post- assessment of coastal engineering and management activities.

Key areas

  • Offshore and coastal structures
  • Ports, harbours, marinas, breakwaters & dredging operations
  • Sea level rise
  • Coastal and estuarine processes
  • Foreshore protection & management studies
  • Coastline monitoring and analysis
  • Coastal zone management

Example projects

    • Detailed council wide study of local and regional coastal processes and hazards
    • Identification of suitable sea level rise scenarios and design storm conditions
    • Sea level rise vulnerability assessment
    • Coastal hazard mapping
    • Recommendations for adaptive management options
    • Physical modelling in 3 m wide wave flume
    • Wave overtopping velocities and depths
    • Dynamic uplift and slamming pressures
    • Hydrodynamics under wharf deck
    • Revetment armour stability
    • Supply and installation of 16 camera monitoring system
    • Hourly updated images
    • Merged-rectified plan images
    • Weekly analysis of shorelines
    • Weekly analysis of beach width
    • Monthly animations
    • Real-time, web-based delivery of monitoring information 
    • Physical modelling in 1 m wide wave flume
    • Hydraulic performance of COPED breakwater units
    • Uplift forces on breakwater units
    • Wave reduction 

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