95988 - Coastal Systems and Global Change

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Sciences and Management of Nature (cod. 9257)

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to introduce students to the main impacts of global change on coastal systems in the past, present and future. Climate changes in the geological time (and particularly in the Late Quaternary) will be taken into account for contextualizing recent/current trends in coastal behavior, and for better understanding the role of the anthropogenic component. Key processes interacting at different temporal and spatial scales on coastal systems and driving their dynamic evolution will be considered. The effects of global change on modern coastal systems will be discussed, with emphasis on major threats due to sea-level rise, to the occurrence of extreme events, coastal erosion and flooding. Possible mitigation and adaptation strategies, enhancing resilience and reducing vulnerability of coastal systems, are also introduced.

Course contents

Introduction to the coastal zone: definition and limits, geological heritage. Spatial and temporal scales in coastal behavior. Main hydrodynamic processes acting in the coastal zone: wind-generated waves and currents, tides and storm surges.

Sea-level variations: processes affecting sea-level at long, medium and short term. Sea level in the Quaternary: evidences of relative sea-level changes at the coast and related paleo-geographical variations, reconstructed from geological proxies and archaeological markers. Estimates of recent local and global sea-level rise and predicted scenarios in a climate change perspective.

Coastal systems: Wave- and tide-dominated littoral systems, deltas and estuaries. Rocky coasts and factors affecting their evolution.

Coastal morphodynamics: the beach, hydrodynamic and morphological profile; short-to medium-term variations in the beach profile relation with environmental factors and the seasonal wave climate.

Main traditional and up-to-date techniques for coastal study and monitoring.

Climate change and potential impacts at the coast: coastal vulnerability to extreme events and sea-level rise. Coastal erosion, natural and anthropogenic causes and possible defense policies in the view of sustainable development. Possible mitigation and adaptation strategies. The Emilia-Romagna coast as a case-study.


The integration with the following texts might be useful:

Pranzini E., 2004. La forma delle coste. Zanichelli.

Davidson-Arnott R., 2010. Introduction to Coastal Processes and Geomorphology. Cambridge University Press.

Masselink G., Gehrels R., 2014. Coastal Environments and Global Change. Wiley.

Teaching methods

The course is composed of frontal lessons, integrated with seminars and lectures.

Assessment methods

The final exam is a written test -  it could be integrated with a personal report on specific arguments dealing with the course contents based on selected literature papers.

Teaching tools

Slides projected during the lessons and other integrating material will be available at the course repository web site.

Office hours

See the website of Claudia Romagnoli


Sustainable cities Climate Action Oceans

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.