The rate of coastal erosion around the UK is expected to increase substantially in the future, according to a new study by the University of Plymouth.
The report, prepared for the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP), highlights that 17% of coastlines in the UK and 19.9% in Ireland are being affected by a range of issues including sea-level rises and the increased frequency and intensity of extreme storms.
England and Wales are the worst affected UK regions, with 28% of their 3700km of coast experiencing erosion greater than 10 cm per year, while more than three-quarters of Scotland’s coast is unlikely to erode at perceptible rates.
The report was written by world-leading researchers from the University of Plymouth, Scottish Natural Heritage, Birkbeck, University of London and the University of Cambridge.
As well as reference to studies by scientists in Plymouth, it includes forecasts based on the Met Office’s UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) report which suggests sea levels could increase by as much as 80cm by 2100 with wave height rises of up to 20%, particularly in the south-west of the UK and Ireland.
However, it emphasises that while climate change and sea-level rise are both gradual and global events, coastal erosion and flooding are highly episodic and short-term processes and normally very localised in terms of impact.
As such, it says coastal management strategies need to take into account not only future predictions around climate change but also a wide variety of adaptation strategies, including beach nourishment and managed retreat.
The study is one of 26 individual, peer-reviewed scientific reports which form part of the MCCIP Report Card 2020, which summarises detailed evidence of observed and projected climate change impacts and identifies emerging issues and knowledge gaps.