© Flandria, Theatrum orbis terrarum, Abraham Ortelius (based on the map of Flanders by Gerardus Mercator), 16th Century AD
In this era of climate change and associated sea level rise, it is vital to develop a sustainable relationship with the sea. This will pose a major challenge in the future, especially for Flanders. However, this is not the first time that relative sea level rise has threatened the coastal plain and its inhabitants. For thousands of years, living close to the sea has been risky. Research into past environmental conditions, the evolution of the coastal landscape, and how people adapted to life in it can help inform sustainable coastal management practices for the future.
The aim of the Testerep project is to capture the evolution of the Flemish coastal landscape over the past 5000 years in more detail, both in time and space. This way, we will gain more insight into the impact of natural changes (e.g. sea level rise) and human interventions (e.g. construction of dikes) on the morphodynamics of the coast.
To this end, the project focuses on one part of the Flemish coastline in particular: the former Testerep peninsula. The landward side of Testerep has since been transformed into polders and beach, while the seaward side, including medieval Ostend, was swallowed by the sea.
… for policy makers, blue economy
and the general public
To study the evolution and eventual demise of Testerep over the past 5,000 years, the Testerep researchers will analyze existing data on natural and human landscape features and supplement it with new data collected both onshore and offshore (see 'Research'). The scientific data and knowledge acquired within the project will be passed on to various stakeholders from policy and inductry and to the general public (see 'Valorisation'). To this end, the project will focus strongly on the translation of the acquired knowledge into visualizations and communication products (see 'Results'). In this way, the Testerep project will be able to raise awareness with the general public on coastal dynamics and vulnerability, stimulate tourism, support heritage management and provide insights for sustainable coastal management in the future.
Expertise: Onshore data en archaeology
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Expertise: Hydrodynamic modeling
More information about the hydraulics and geotechnics department of the KULeuven?
Expertise: Computer modeling and interactive 3D visualizations
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