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Studying islands could improve costal infrastructure resilience

Studying natural barrier islands could improve the resilience of coastal infrastructure design, according to an expert.

In a presentation at the World Ocean Council’s Sustainable Ocean Summit in Singapore, Bechtel senior ports specialist Marco Pluijm urged engineers to look at natural island evolution as opposed to the more unpredictable trends and processes that currently inform marine infrastructure design.

He said: “Natural barrier islands have evolved over thousands of years, adapting their structure to cope with the impact of the sea and natural disasters such as storms and hurricanes.

“Looking at nature, we can learn for instance, which dimensions work best for breakwaters. We can also learn from natural processes, such as the movement of sediment, how to reduce impacts, so that marine infrastructure can be up and running much sooner after an event.”

He cited examples of natural barrier islands such as Dauphin Island in the US. He argued such studies could help mitigate the effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes and rising sea levels.

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