Coasts and Flood



Holger Schüttrumpf

Head of institute


+49 241 80 25262



Challenges and objectives

Coastal protection measure Copyright: © IWW

Floods are a natural phenomenon. As a result of anthropogenic interventions in the natural hydrological cycle and the increasing aggregation of people in regions close to watercourses, flooding is becoming an increasingly serious social problem. Every year, several thousand people die worldwide and many billions of euros in total damage are caused by hydrological events such as flash floods, storm surges, river floods and landslides.

In coastal engineering there has been a shift from coastal protection to integrated coastal zone management in recent years. Due to diminishing natural resources, dramatically increasing economic pressure on the coastal zone and increasing population density of the coastal zone under changed natural boundary conditions (climate change), sustainable concepts for the long-term use, protection and management of coastal zones are necessary. Nature conservation and species protection also play an important role in this context.

Flood Copyright: © IWW

Tasks and methods of research

Current research at the institute aims at the safety of flood protection structures, such as dikes, and mobile flood protection systems, as well as at the understanding of failure mechanisms and the consequences of structural failure. Furthermore, it is being investigated to what extent improved monitoring of structures using novel sensor technology could improve the safety of the structures. New approaches in coastal engineering try to increase the ecosystemic value of classical coastal protection measures and investigate to what extent natural measures can also take over a protective function. This requires a better understanding of physical processes, such as the initiation of the failure of a coastal protection structure. Only by coupling and further developing classical methods such as physical model experiments, numerical simulations and i-situ measurements with the methods of uncertainty analysis, probabilistics and risk analysis models can be created that provide a robust basis for a scale- and interdisciplinary description of the processes in the coastal and estuarine area.

As research methods the IWW uses physical model experiments and nature measurements as well as numerical simulations.