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R&D projects
VULSACO: VULnerability of SAndy COast systems to climate change

Vulnérabilité de plages sableuses face aux changements climatiques et aux pressions anthropiques
VULnerability of SAndy COast systems to climate change and human activities

ANR Research project on Vulnerability, the Environment and Climate, 2007-2010, a Euro-Mediterranean Risk Competitiveness Cluster approved theme.

Today 41% of the beaches in Metropolitan France are dwindling away due to erosion while 10% are accumulating sediments. Sandy beaches are dynamic systems that may be stable, subject to erosion or subject to sedimentation depending on the natural and anthropic forces affecting them. With climate change, the trend is likely to worsen.
The IPCC’s studies on the impact of climate change stress the extreme vulnerability of sandy coasts (31% of France’s metropolitan coast) to erosion and submersion by the sea.

Objective :

The aim of the VULSACO project is twofold:

(1) To identify and assess indicators for physical vulnerability (to erosion and submersion by the sea) at short term (storms) and at long terms (2030); 
(2) to identify the effects of the human occupation factor on coastal zone vulnerability.

Four sites were studied, each composed of low-lying lengths of sand beaches with different hydrodynamic and socio-economic contexts: 

-The Sète barrier beach (Idier, 2008)
-The dune string near Dunkerque (Ruz, 2007)
-Truc Vert in Aquitaine (Larroudé, 2001)
-The west beach on the island of Noirmoutier, (Oliveros, 2008) 

The physical and socio-economic characteristics of each site were determined. Data was gathered, completed and interpreted to understand present evolution trends and to establish local climate change scenarios based on the data history available. Long and short term physical vulnerability modelling is proposed. The influence of the different strategies likely to be proposed by coastal area managers is assessed by combining socio-economic models with the physical models. The modelling work leads to the definition of vulnerability indicators.

Partners :

BRGM (coordination), EPOC (Université de Bordeaux I), Université du Littoral, (Dunkerque), IMAGES (Université de Perpignan), T2E (Université de Montpellier), BRL Ingénierie (Nîmes), LEGI (Université de Grenoble), LETG (Université de Nantes), Symlog (Paris).

Further details at