About the project

Previously, the ability to analyse and forecast large scale and long term geomorphic changes was limited. However, thanks to improvements in the analysis of coastal and offshore landform behaviour, the iCOASST project will look to develop and implement models that can provide a breakthrough in the prediction of coastal behaviour under conditions of change. These behavioural landform models will be capable of coupled application at regional scales to resolve key reactions between climate forcing, sediment supply, morphology and erosion, and flood risk.

These models will be achieved through four work streams:

  • A Systems Modelling Framework that will characterise coastal elements and features and the relationships between them to define what quantitative models are needed to simulate the data;
  • Producing Behavioural Geomorphic Models using observations to find patterns of behaviour between different geomorphic variables that may then be used to predict future coastal systems behaviour
  • Case studies will be undertaken in two contrasting coastal regions (from Lowestoft to Harwich in Suffolk and Liverpool Bay) to evaluate the results from work streams 1 and 2;
  • Pathway to Impact - ensuring that the results and the component models of the research will be promptly and effectively used in strategic coastal assessments and wider coastal science.

The challenge posed by climate change requires a paradigm shift in our approach to coastal erosion and flood risk management. These changes intensify the need to understand and predict processes of change in shoreline position and configuration at management (decadal to century) scales. 

The iCOASST project aims to improve this situation by bringing together formalised knowledge of coastal systems with quantified broad-scale analysis, with the systems insights from a new generation of reduced complexity models. This has the potential to deliver long-term coastal engineering and management solutions, which are relevant to coastal managers. 


Our overall goal is to develop, integrate and implement a hierarchical modelling framework that can provide a breakthrough in prediction of coastal behaviour under conditions of change. Central to this system is a new generation of behavioural landform models capable of coupled application at regional scales to resolve key feedbacks between climate forcing, sediment supply, morphology and erosion and flood risk. However, implementation of such models requires rigorous characterisation of landform components and their relationships in terms of energy and mass (sediment) fluxes. Coastal systems mapping based on a range of inputs can characterise the relationships between coastal elements and features. Coastal area models, supported by empirical analyses of shelf bathymetry and substrate, also provide a quantitative basis to understand these linkages. Fig. 1 shows how these three levels of abstraction interact within an overall modelling framework. System uncertainty, model linking, testing and validation are of critical importance and are explicitly addressed below. Following the AO, the research is structured into four deliverables, with component work packages, explained in detail in the Work Plan. In terms of IPR, all the software developed within iCOASST will be open source, follow FRMRC software guidance, and be OpenMI compliant. Any existing proprietary software that we use that is owned by the partners will also be available via a freeware licence. This is to maximise the legacy of the project, including application to coastal erosion and flood management