In brief: The Tyndall Centre Coastal Simulator

Climate change brings impacts on coastal communities and ecosystems that require a broad range of adaptations to increased sea levels, changing wave and surge climates and the resulting coastal erosion, increased flood risk and changes in biodiversity and ecosystems. We are currently at a key stage in shoreline management planning, with phase 2 being under way. There is a need to ensure that Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) are technically robust, integrating flood risk and coastal erosion in the context of climate change, spatial planning, habitat protection and the need for stakeholder engagement. This brief describes the work being carried out by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in partnership with the Environment Agency to develop a coastal simulator that addresses these challenges. The simulator allows us to identify how the future coastline may evolve by providing a range of predictions of the future of the coast under a range of shoreline management options and climate and socio-economic futures. It uses sub-cell 3b as a case study for a method that can be applied more widely; many of the simulator concepts will be tested in other coastal regions such as subcell 3a and cell 5. The simulator is the world's first to produce a downscaled analysis applied to a coastal region (in this case Norfolk), linking global changes to local wave climate and regional climate scenarios and their consequences. Earlier work on the simulator integrated components concerning climate, hydrodynamics, morphology, ecosystems, societal resources, scenarios of shoreline

Maximum wave height during the 1953 surge

management and flood and erosion risks. More recent work has added sandbank dynamics and an agent-based model of urban land use.

Starting with downscaled Global Climate Models, the regional impacts of future climate pressures including sea-level rise, and changes in storm surges and waves are investigated in a series of linked models. The shoreline erosion and profile evolution are then investigated by integrating the process-based SCAPE (Soft Cliff and Platform Erosion) model with a probabilistic model of cliff top position, including a range of management options. This is then coupled with a flood model to conduct a coastal flood and erosion risk assessment under the full range of scenarios. The simulator also included a graphical user interface which allows a wide range of queries, making the results available for a variety of purposes, including in the preparation of SMPs.

The results to date quantitatively show that erosion management decisions for the cliffs control the amount of sediment supplied to down-drift beaches and hence flood risk in the adjoining coastal lowlands. However, realising the potential benefits of reducing the length of cliff defences raises important social and political issues which this research is also addressing. May, 2007 For more information, please go to: programme5.shtml