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The researcher David Lucio from IHCantabria wins the First Modesto Vigueras 2022 Prize

by | 22 Jun, 2022 | Hydrodynamics and Coastal Infrastructures, General News, Awards | 1 comment

The Technical Association of Ports and Coasts (ATPC) has awarded the First “Modesto Vigueras 2022 Award”, which recognises young researchers in the port and coastal sectors, to the researcher of the Hydraulics Institute of the Universidad de Cantabria (IHCantabria), David Lucio Fernández, for the work entitled “Methodology for the projection of the impacts derived from climate change on coastal and port structures”. The winning work is the basis of the research carried out in his doctoral thesis under the supervision of the Universidad de Cantabria professors Javier López Lara and Íñigo J. Losada Rodríguez.

A new methodological framework has been presented that allows quantifying the temporal evolution of the design criteria of any structure located on the coast in the context of climate change. Thus, it will enable decision-makers to know in which climatic conditions and time horizons it is necessary to adapt the work. The methodological development has been applied to a representative section of the coastal protection of the Barcelona-Mataró railway line, warning of the need to carry out adaptation measures before the middle of the century to maintain the standards of operability and structural reliability of the infrastructure.

Implications of the work presented for coastal management

Coastal zones are unequivocally exposed to the threat posed by climate change. The latest climate change projections show an unfavourable trend, with accelerating sea-level rise and changes in the magnitude and frequency of extreme wave events. The role of coastal and port structures in coastal management should not be forgotten as the first artificial element of defence against marine dynamics, having been designed to meet design requirements throughout their useful life to ensure the economic, social, productive and environmental viability of the work.

The combination of a changing climatic threat with a high degree of exposure and potentially damaging consequences makes it necessary to study the temporal evolution of the hydraulic response. So that engineers and managers can 1) anticipate with sufficient margin for action to 2) plan cost-effective adaptation measures, ensuring adequate distribution of public and private resources.

The methodology presented allows the coastal and harbour engineer to answer questions such as: how will the intensity and frequency of extreme events change and, what will be the effect of climate change on protection works, what will be the effect of the rise in mean sea level on the reliability, functionality and operability of a given work, how can the effect of climate change be incorporated into the design of new protection works, what are the uncertainties associated with previous assessments and how can they be integrated into decision-making, and how can these uncertainties be taken into account in the design of new protection works.

The work presented by David Lucio integrates the technical regulatory framework applicable in Spain (Maritime Works Recommendations, State Ports) and the framework proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for climate change risk assessment. In addition to the scientific uniqueness, this achieves compliance with the Spanish regulatory framework on climate change formed by the Spanish Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Coastal Region (2017), the recently approved new Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (PNACC, 2020) for the period 2021-2030 and Law 2/2013, of 29 May, on the protection and sustainable use of the coastline.

The practical application of the work has been carried out on a representative section of the commuter line between Mataró and Barcelona, in the Maresme region. In this pilot case, the work has identified an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events due to climate change. For example, it is estimated that the event with a return period of 500 years will occur, on average, every 50 years by the middle of the century. This result shows how the effect of climate change can have significant consequences, both for the correct functioning of the railway infrastructure and for the hydraulic stability of the protection structure.

Modesto Vigueras Award

The Technical Association of Ports and Coasts (ATPyC) annually announces the “Modesto Vigueras Award” aimed at professionals under 40 years of age in the port and coastal sector who carry out their professional activity in Spain. The main objective of the award is to promote the interest and specialisation of the new generations of professionals in the port and coastal sector, develop new ideas in these fields, and encourage their participation in the national and international activities of the Association.

IHCantabria has already obtained, through its researchers, a total of eight Modesto Vigueras awards in the last ten years. The previous one, David Lucio, the second Camilo Jaramillo prize in 2021.