Integrating mangrove growth and failure in coastal flood protection designs

A. Gijón Mancheño*, V. Vuik, B. K. van Wesenbeeck, S. N. Jonkman, R. van Hespen, J. R. Moll, S. Kazi, I. Urrutia, M. van Ledden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Mangrove forests reduce wave attack along tropical and sub-tropical coastlines, decreasing the wave loads acting on coastal protection structures. Mangrove belts seaward of embankments can therefore lower their required height and decrease their slope protection thickness. Wave reduction by mangroves depends on tree frontal surface area and stability against storms, but both aspects are often oversimplified or neglected in coastal protection designs. Here we present a framework to evaluate how mangrove belts influence embankment designs, including mangrove growth over time and failure by overturning and trunk breakage. This methodology is applied to Sonneratia apetala mangroves seaward of embankments in Bangladesh, considering forest widths between 10 and 1000 m (cross-shore). For water depths of 5 m, wave reduction by mangrove forests narrower than 1 km mostly affects the slope protection and the bank erodibility, whereas the required embankment height is less influenced by mangroves. Sonneratia apetala trees experience a relative maximum in wave attenuation capacity at 10 years age, due to their large submerged canopy area. Once trees are more than 20 years old, their canopy is emergent, and most wave attenuation is caused by trunk and roots. Canopy emergence exposes mangroves to wind loads, which are much larger than wave loads, and can cause tree failure during cyclones. These results stress the importance of including tree surface area and stability models when predicting coastal protection by mangroves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7951
Number of pages19
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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