The same dynamic forces that make coastlines fascinating create perennial headaches for engineers trying to maintain coastlines against erosion. This Practical Engineering video discusses some of the challenges of coastal erosion and how engineers counter them.
In a completely undeveloped coastline, waves and storms erode the shoreline while rivers and currents replenish sand through sedimentation. Manmade structures tend to strengthen erosion processes while disrupting the sedimentation that would normally counter it. Beach nourishment — where sand gets dredged up and deposited on a beach — is an engineered attempt to replace natural sedimentation.
Dunes, mangrove forests, and wetlands are all nature’s way of protecting and maintaining coastlines. We engineers are still learning how to both utilize and protect shorelines. (Image and video credit: Practical Engineering)