Analysis Of Upgrading Low-Crested Structures As An Adaptation Measure To Climate Change For Coastal Protection: A Hybrid Approach


  • NASRIN HASSANPOUR Department of Engineering, Università della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”; Aversa, 81031
  • PASQUALE CONTESTABILE Department of Engineering, Università della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”; Aversa, 81031, Italy
  • JAVIER L. LARA IHCantabria – Instituto de Hidraulica Ambiental de la Universidad de Cantabria, Isabel Torres 15, 39011, Santander, Spain
  • DIEGO VICINANZA Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy



low crested structures, wave transmission, hybrid modelling


Coastal zones have consistently been among the most appealing settlement areas due to their proximity to the sea, rich natural resources, and the high quality of life they offer (Lamberti et al., 2005). However, these regions are affected by climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise, storm surges, and an increased intensity of extreme weather events (Burcharth et al., 2014). Traditional low-crested rubble mound breakwaters are commonly used to protect coastal areas from wave damage. However, it is expected that the variability of climate conditions will induce a loss of functionality and structural integrity in the coming decades. Coastal communities and coastal managers, within the framework of sustainable development, are demanding new approaches that include not only the preservation of the hydraulic performance of the breakwaters, but also other factors, including social and environmental impacts. These requests significantly affect the traditional way to conceive those structures to be integrated into the coastal landscape. To cope with the variation of climate drivers, existing low-crested breakwaters must be adapted to accommodate social demands and environmental issues. Therefore, upgrading and maintaining the existing rubble-mound breakwater is a hot topic in coastal engineering, and deserves special attention due to the possible intensification of external loads resulting from the impacts of climate change (Stagnitti et al., 2023). Upgrading can be done by modifying the structure profile and/or adding structure elements (Burcharth et al., 2014). In 2011, Cappietti provided curves for the functional design of submerged breakwaters to be used in place of preexisting emergent breakwaters. Burcharth et al. (2014) explained that the best way to improve the structure is to put an additional layer of protection on the front slope, as long as the foreshore has a mild slope of around 1:100. But if the foreshore becomes steeper because of erosion, then a front berm will also be needed. Stagnitti et al. (2022) introduced a novel methodology based on the calculation of the failure probability during a lifetime due to independent failure modes. Their method was employed to evaluate the performance of upgraded breakwaters in response to climate change. Estimating the wave overtopping of both existing and upgraded breakwaters is essential for designing upgrade options that can ensure the safety of port operations. Stagnitti et al. (2023) applied the numerical model IH2VOF, which was calibrated using experimental data, to study the wave overtopping of damaged and upgraded rubble-mound breakwaters. The present work examines the feasibility of converting emerged rubble-mound breakwaters into submerged breakwaters to minimize their detrimental environmental effects. To achieve this goal, an investigation was conducted to evaluate the hydraulic performance of submerged breakwaters that are created by lowering the crest of existing emerged breakwaters. Additionally, two-dimensional numerical simulations were performed using IH2VOF to investigate wave interactions with the structures.




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