Nature Based Solutions for coastal protection: the role of seagrass in wave attenuation

CMCC Webinar
20 November 2023, 12:00 CET
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Salvatore Causio, CMCC – OPA Division

Elisa Furlan, CMCC – RAAS Division


The large presence of human infrastructure, protected natural environments, cultural heritage and focal economical activities makes the coastal zone one of the areas most vulnerable to climate change related risks. Storm surges are the main cause of inundation and coastal erosion due to the combined effects of waves and currents which induce change in sea-level, and resuspend and transport sediments. In addition to the classical “grey” solutions based on engineered structures such as seawalls and groins, nature-based solutions have become increasingly popular in the last decade. These are solutions inspired by nature itself, that are at the same time effective and environmentally sustainable. It is well known that seagrass meadows provide several ecosystem services, and among them, coastal protection is one of the most relevant. The aim of this work is to investigate, by means of an ocean digital twin (DTO), the effects of seagrass meadows on the wave field.  

The vegetation module is implemented in the DTO considering  the plants flexibility under the effect of the water motion. This novel formulation was verified using an idealized testcase and then applied to three focus areas along the Italian coast with different morphologies and seagrass species (Zostera marina, Posidonia oceanica): Emilia-Romagna coast (northern Adriatic Sea), Venice lagoon, (northern Adriatic Sea) and Civitavecchia coast (Tyrrhenian Sea). 

Despite the fact that the applications addressed different objectives, the three focus areas showed that seagrass can effectively reduce the bottom current velocity by up to 50%, and the wave height by up to 20%. These results are promising and suggest that seagrass could play an important role in mitigating the wave impact on coastal zones.


20 November 2023, 12:00 CEST
To join the webinar, register here


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