PIRE Application

Program Announcement

NSF PIRE Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Research Travel Program: 2019 Application for Field Research in the Netherlands

The NSF PIRE Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program is pleased to offer funding* for students at participating universities – Texas A&M University (Galveston and College Station campuses), Rice University, and Jackson State University and its partner institutions – to travel to the Netherlands from May 12 to 25, 2019 to study issues related to flood mitigation. This international opportunity will enable undergraduate and graduate students to enhance and extend their current educational experience by participating in group research activities and interacting with flood experts in the Netherlands. Students from diverse disciplines, including: engineering, planning, economics, hydrology, biology, architecture, and computational hydraulics, who are interested in flood risk reduction, are encouraged to apply. This program provides a unique opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary research with applicants from diverse backgrounds and academic levels. Participants will develop an array of teamwork and leadership skills.

Applicants should submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) that fits within the focus areas and research topics suggested (see the map and description below), however, applicants are also encouraged to come up with their own research questions in addition to the examples provided. Selected students will work on one of three case studies.

For each case study area, focus areas, research topics related to local issues, and research question examples have been identified below. Further instructions are provided in the application package.

Applicants should submit their completed application packet by November 11, 2018 to pire@tamug.edu. Click the button at the bottom to download the application form.

*Funding covers one round-trip flight and accommodation, meals, and transportation in the Netherlands. The schedule is non-negotiable; funded participants will travel together.

Descriptions of three case study areas are provided below. Please read the descriptions thoroughly before filling out an application.

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Case Study #1 Case Study #2 Case Study #3

Case Study #1: Western Scheldt

The Western Scheldt – located in the southernmost part of the Netherlands – is an intertidal area vulnerable to storm surge and riverine flooding. Despite being a critical navigational channel between the North Sea and Antwerp, Belgium, this area has been experiencing population decline, making it an interesting case for examining the role of restoring natural functions for flood mitigation. However, the area will also be impacted by rising sea levels and increasing severity of coastal storms. Moreover, due to its special geographic location and integral functions, regular dredging is required to secure safe navigation to the Port of Antwerp. This has caused several environmental and intergovernmental issues that need attention. At the mouth of the Western Scheldt Estuary, lies Vlissingen, a coastal city well-known for its comprehensive flood risk reduction strategies. With its critical location between the Scheldt and the North Sea, Vlissingen has played a pivotal role as a harbor for centuries.

Focus areas

Examples of local issues and topics

1. City of Vlissingen

- Multipurpose flood defenses

- Land use planning for flood risk reduction

- Dike in dune constructions

- Flood resilient building codes

- Flood resilient housing policy for socio-economically vulnerable populations

2. Port of Vlissingen

  • Vulnerable infrastructure protection:

- Nuclear power plant protection (critical infrastructure)

- Above ground Storage Tanks (AST) protection

3. Ship Channel

  • Environmental and social-political issues:
    - Dredging
    - Morphology of multiple channel tidal inlet systems
    - Oyster reef protection
    - Intergovernmental management/collaboration

Examples of Research Questions

RQ 1: What is a flood resilient building code in Vlissingen and how can this be applied in the U.S?

RQ 2: How can land use plans incoporate flood risk reduction and are they effective in reducing losses?

RQ 3: How can local governments create housing policies that promote the flood safety of socioecoimically vulnerable populations?

RQ 4: What are the impacts of climate change or extreme weather on the area, especially infrastructure networks?

RQ 5: How do the Netherlands and Texas differ in dredging methods and practices?

RQ 6: How can multiple local governments or agencies collaborate to secure the ship channel safety/ecosystm protection?

RQ 7: How do the Netherlands and Texas differ in flood risk perception and how does this influence their mitigation approach?

Case Study #2: Eastern Scheldt

The Eastern Scheldt – located in the southwestern part of the Netherlands – is one of the estuarine branches of the delta for the river Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt. The Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier is one of the oldest coastal engineering structures in the Netherlands. The preferential flood risk reduction strategy for the Eastern Scheldt is aimed at achieving a climate-proof, safe, ecologically resilient, and economically vital region. This interconnectivity determines the choice and implementation of measures in this area. In the Eastern Scheldt, flood risk management continues to be based on the concept of “flexible where possible, rigid where needed,” linking up with ecological and spatial ambitions wherever possible.

Focus areas

Examples of local issues and topics

1. Storm surge barrier

- Scour

- Barrier closing regimes

- Multifunctional use strategies

- Long-term strengthening and maintenance strategies

2. Estuary

- Ecosystem preservation

- Sand starvation caused by erosion (nourishment projects)

- Oysters reef as a flood defense (test beds)

- Plan evaluation: Flood risk management plan/Estuary protection plan

- Saltwater intrusion

3. Estuary Shoreline

- Dike strengthening

- Mixed land use plan

Examples of Research Questions

RQ 1: How can the surge barrier be used for multifunctional values (e.g., by adding recreational function)?

RQ 2: What are the most important factors underlying barrier strengthening and maintenance?

RQ 3: How does the existing estuary protection plan integrate flood risk reduction?

RQ 4: How do sediment deposition patterns and volumes differ at Eastern Scheldt and Bolivar Roads?

RQ 5: How does dike strengthening strategies incorporate sea level rise?

RQ 6: How can existing plans be more adaptive to climate change?

Case Study #3: Rhine Delta

The Rhine Delta region – around the cities of Rotterdam and Dordrecht – is one of the most densely populated and flood-prone areas in the Netherlands. It has diverse assets, including the oil and gas infrastructure associated with the Port of Rotterdam, the Greenports (horticulture), and the Biesbosch nature reserve. Large parts of the region are below sea level and vulnerable to storm surge, tidal flooding and rain- induced flooding. This necessitates comprehensive strategies for coping with compound flood risk and other emerging coastal stressors. Nevertheless, this is one of the most rapidly growing areas in the Netherlands and it has an immense economic significance to the country.

Focus areas

Examples of local issues and topics

1. City of Dordrecht

- Adaptive flood risk management

- Multifunctional flood risk reduction facilities

- Household level flood proofing initiatives

- Flooding caused by the coincidence of precipitation and storm surge (compound flooding)

- Flood resilient building code

2. Kinderdijk

- Polder management

- Flood protection for historic preservation

3. Rhine River and Ports

- Tidal river flooding

- Nature based engineering solutions

- Flood impacts on transportation infrastructure

- Impacts of compound hazards on port infrastructure

- Climate Adaptation

Examples of Research Questions

RQ 1: At what levels of government are decisions regarding flood control made?

RQ 2: How is flood infrastructure financed and what are main financial instruments used to finance both the new as well as upgrade existing projects?

RQ 3: Which policies can be implemented to effectively protect the historic value of Kinderdijk?

RQ 4: What factors should be considered to make existing flood risk strategies more adaptive to changing environmental and socioeconomic conditions?

RQ 5: What kinds of adjustments are available at household level for flood proofing and to what degree are they effective in mitigating losses?

RQ 6: How do Dutch and US flood insurance schemes differ and what are private adaptation responses in the Netherlands and Texas?

RQ 7: What types of economic models do Dutch and US use to evaluate effectiveness of proposed alternatives and how are costs and benefits calculated?

RQ 8: How does the built environment and design of neighborhoods affect flooding?

RQ 9: How does flooding influence the various infrastructure networks present in a port area?

Click here to download the PIRE Application 2019

For questions about the Center:

Dr. Sam Brody
Ocean and Coastal Studies Building
1001 Texas Clipper Rd
Galveston, TX 77551
Bldg. 3029, Room 366
Phone (409) 740-4939
Fax (409) 740-4429


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