Capturing geological change at the coast

The Tyndall Centre’s Coastal Regional Simulator is exploring the impact of sea level rise on the management of the UK’s coast so that coastal planners and policymakers can make decisions informed by the impact of climate change. A number of Tyndall projects are already working on critical aspects of the simulator, such as coastal erosion, sediment dynamics, biodiversity, vulnerability, tourism, and the perceptions of coastal communities. A current problem for developing the simulator is the capture of important data about coastal geomorphology in light of sea level rise and climate change. Geomorphology studies the development of landscapes and landforms, and its timescales are long-term, spanning from decades to centuries. Professor Robert Nicholls from Middlesex University’s Flood Hazards Research Centre is leading a group of geomorphologists who are working with the Tyndall Centre’s Regional Coastal Simulator team. Together, they are identifying and defining a range of possible morphological states and shapes for the coastline, and the probabilities of those future states. The aim is to integrate and adapt existing and emerging ideas on the development of coastal morphology into an explanatory framework for the simulator. The objective is to describe different behaviours of the coastal morphology, rather than geographic details of change. They are considering open coast as well as sheltered estuary areas. The approach is being demonstrated for the East Anglian coast, but the resulting methods are also applicable elsewhere. Towards the end of the project, a workshop is drawing together academic and coastal management communities to encourage participant feedback for incorporating into the final results.
© M Robinson

Professor Robert Nicholls and colleagues are identifying and defining a range of possible morphological states and shapes for the coastline, and the statistical probabilities of those future states, to inform the understanding of the Tyndall Centre’s regional coastal simulator

More information
Contact the lead investigator of Project T3.42 (Capturing geomorphological change in the coastal simulator): Professor Robert Nicholls Flood Hazard Research Centre University of Middlesex Enfield EN3 4SF Tel: 0208 3625569 r.nicholls@mdx.ac.uk Other researchers involved in this project are: Dr Tom Spencer, Cambridge Coastal Research Centre, University of Cambridge Dr Jon French, Coastal and Estuarine Research Unit, University College London Dr John Rees and Dr Peter Balson, Coastal Geoscience and Global Change, British Geological Survey Dr Iain Brown, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Dr Susan Hanson, Flood Hazard Research Centre, University of Middlesex

Useful Websites
Tyndall Centre’s Sustaining the Coastal Zone research theme www.tyndall.ac.uk/research/theme4/theme4.shtml Tyndall Centre’s Integrated Regional Coastal Simulator www.tyndall.ac.uk/research/theme4/theme4_flagship.shtml Tyndall Centre’s Calculating the Costs and Benefits of Managed Realignment www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/fact_sheets/t2_41.shtml FutureCOAST www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/research/futurecoast.htm Coastal and Estuarine Research Unit www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/ceru Flood Hazard Research Centre www.fhrc.mdx.ac.uk/contents.html Cambridge Coastal Research Unit http://ccru.geog.cam.ac.uk British Geological Survey www.bgs.ac.uk Project duration: September 2003 – January 2005

Round 3