First International Conference on Physical Coastal Processes, Management and Engineering
pcr214 - 16 September 2009



The 1st International Conference on Physical Coastal Processes, Management and Engineering recently took place in Malta, organised by the Wessex Institute of Technology, UK represented by Professor C A Brebbia, the University of Las Palmas, Spain represented by Professor G Rodriguez and the University of Parthenope, Italy represented by Professor G Benassai.

The conference brought together participants interested in different aspects of Coastal Processes.

Coastal regions present a complex dynamic web of natural and human related processes. Although coastal zones are narrow areas extending a few kilometres on either side of the shoreline, and occupying a small part of oceans and land, they, play a very important role as they account for nearly a quarter of all oceanic biological production, which in turn supplies approximately 80% of the world’s fish. About 60% of the human population lives in the coastal zone, and around 70% of big cities are place in this narrow area. Concomitantly, more than 90% of the pollutants generated by human economic activities end up in the coastal zone.

The unstoppable demand of the coast for recreational and tourism activities has increased the need for shore and beach protection as well as the construction of artificial beaches, ports and harbours. Most of the coastlines are subjected to the direct impact of wind waves, swell and storm wave activity. As a result, wind waves and wave driven currents are the dominant mechanisms controlling littoral sand transport and determining the near shore morphology. In addition, many other physical phenomena, such as tides and associated currents, long waves, storm surges, among others, can play a significant role in the dynamical behaviour of the coastal zone.

coastal_pcr6Coastal zones represent potential sources of renewable energy coming from winds, waves, tides, currents and thermal gradients. However, the coastal zone is also exposed to risks related to energy generation. Thus, for instance, extraction and transportation of hydrocarbons can give rise to tremendous ecological disasters. Furthermore, thermal and nuclear power plants are often located in the coastal zone and use large volumes of cooling water and discharge them into marine environment. The intake and discharge from and to a shallow water area affects the physical properties of sea water and the local hydrodynamics.

Due to its great socio-economic importance, the physical aspects of the coastal processes have been of concern for decades, but recent advances in a number of areas, including satellite remote sensing, are giving rise to significant progress in this field. In particular, the use of satellite and imaging systems has significantly enhanced the monitoring and understanding of coastal processes.

Accordingly, it becomes clear that the ocean side of the coastal zone represents a very sensitive and particularly vulnerable sector of the ocean to any kind of man-made action or natural extreme events. Consequently, the problem of environmental protection and conservation takes special relevance in this zone, and any decision concerning its viability must be preceded by a forecast of its consequences. Their adequate prediction is only possible on the basis of a clear understanding and careful analysis of the fundamental dynamic processes occurring in such areas.

coastal_pcr2In order to reach satisfactory solutions for the demands imposed on coastal areas and the protection of its environment, one needs to understand very different aspects and their interaction. The problems are essentially interdisciplinary and scientists need to be able to exchanges ideas with colleagues from other disciplines with a variety of different experiences.

The application of the principles of sustainable development on coastal zones, together with the need to protect the environment and control the physical mechanisms acting on them is the reason why this conference provides an interdisciplinary approach.

 Conference Topics

The papers presented at the conference were grouped into the following topics:

  • coastal_pcr1Wave modelling and prediction in coastal regions
  • Wave transformation hydrodynamics
  • Extreme events and sea level rise
  • Sea defence and energy recovery
  • Hydrodynamic forces and sediment transport
  • Pollution and dispersion
  • Planning and beach design

 Invited Presentations

There were a series of invited speakers who delivered keynote addresses.

  • Modelling mean wave direction distribution with the von Mises model
    G. Rodríguez, University of Las Palmas, Spain
  • An analysis of measurement from a 3D oceanic wave field
    P. C. Liu, NOAA, USA
  • A model to predict the coastal sea level variations and surge
    N. F. F. Ebecken, University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • On a joint distribution of two successive surf parameters
    D. Myrhaug, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  • Coastal storm damage reduction program in Salerno Province after the winter 2008 storms
    G. Benassai, University of Parthenope, Italy
  • Experimental study of multi-functional artificial reef parameters
    M. ten Voorde, Institute of Marine Research, Portugal
  • Use of video imagery to test model predictions of surf heights
    D. Huntley, University of Plymouth, UK
  • Tidal effect on chemical spills in San Diego Bay
    P. C. Chu, Naval Postgraduate School, USA
  • New requirements on beach design: limiting states condition
    J. C. Santás, CEDEX, Spain

 Social Activities

coastal_pcr3The Conference gave the delegates ample opportunities interact as practically all of them were staying at the hotel where the meeting took place. They also benefited from complimentary lunch buffets in addition to the coffee breaks. At the end of the first day they were offered a before dinner reception.

The conference banquet took place in the Phoenician Hotel which is reputed to serve the finest cuisine on the island. The hotel is a landmark in Valetta and the delegates had also the opportunity of having a walk around before dinner. Valetta is a small, beautifully constructed city proud of its heritage as the capital of Malta and its association with the Order of the Knights Hospitaliers. The main sights of the town are the Palace of Grand Masters, now a museum containing an outstanding armoury display; the co-cathedral of St John, skilfully decorated in the baroque style bought to the island by the Knights and the Archaeology Museum, where the history and prehistory of the island is explained in detail. Malta, positioned in the Mediterranean, made it a natural ground for the mixing of different cultures which gives the island a richness out of proportion to its size. Delegates were delighted to have the occasion of strolling along the main streets of Valetta before the excellent dinner at the Hotel restaurant with dishes accompanied by a selection of good red and white wines.

 International Scientific Advisory Committee Meeting

The members of the International Scientific Advisory Committee met over dinner to discuss how the meeting progressed and what improvements could be made when it is reconvened in 2011. Several new topics were discussed and nominations for new committee members. Different possible locations were put forward and they will be investigated by the conference department of WIT.

 Publication of Papers

cp09_bookThe proceedings of Coastal Processes, 320pp (Print ISBN: 1-84564-200-6; On-line ISBN: 1-84564-376-8; Print ISSN: 1746-448X) are available from WIT Press priced at £122/US$220/€159. Orders can be placed by telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223, fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the WIT Press web site at

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as volume 136 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (On-line ISSN: 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at