Crantock Beach, Cornwall

Crantock Beach, Cornwall

The University of Plymouth Coastal Processes Research Group (CPRG) in partnership with the National Network of Regional Coastal Monitoring Programmes (NNRCMP) are pleased to announce the first UK Coastal Research Conference – held in July 2023 in Plymouth.
This conference showcased and celebrated the coastal research being undertaken within the UK. Principally focused on UK academics, organisations and institutions working on UK coastal science, we also welcomed research using overseas case studies that are of relevance to the UK. The conference highlighted the current state of knowledge and the research that is being undertaken to address coastal issues. 
  • Coastal processes in the UK – focused on process-based research of coastal systems
  • Innovation in coastal research – developments in the field of techniques, methodology, instrumentation and sensors to capture and analyse coastal data
  • Coastal data access and applications – presentation of UK coastal datasets and projects, e.g. sources beyond the National Monitoring Programme to promote collaboration and wider access
  • Applied research and FCERM (flood and coastal erosion risk management) – application of science in active coastal management projects and partnerships.
We envisage the conference to start a wider conversation about national coastal research strategies and coastal knowledge gaps to inform researchers, practitioners and end-users to help promote sustainable management of our coast.
We invited participants to submit abstracts and share their work via Oral Presentations, dedicated Poster Sessions and ‘Hot Plot’ slots. In brief:
  • Oral Presentations consisted of 15 minutes presentation with 5 minutes for questions.
  • Poster Sessions began with a minute introduction to each poster by the author.
  • Hot Plots were a 3 minute presentation on a single slide to showcase a figure/result/new project or something that confuses you (!) to start a discussion. 
The three-day event on 4–6 July 2023 was hosted at the University of Plymouth. The draft conference programme included:
Tuesday 4 July
  • Optional site visit: Start Bay day trip (£50)
  • Optional training course: Introduction to XBeach Modelling (£150)
  • Welcome drinks reception at the University of Plymouth
Wednesday 5 July
Thursday 6 July
  • Conference day 2 – keynote, oral and poster presentations
  • Conference close
Target audience: academics, industry, coastal practitioners and local authorities.
  • We invited all delegates to join us on Tuesday 4 July for welcome drinks following the site visit/short course.  
  • A conference dinner was held on 5 July at the National Marine Aquarium and included time to explore some of the tanks at this incredible venue.
For all conference enquiries, please email 

Optional events

XBeach - modelling wave-driven
hydrodynamics and morphological response in sandy coastal environments
Slapton Sands
Short course: Introduction to XBeach Modelling (£150) – 4 July (limited to 20 places)
We offered a one-day XBeach course aimed at providing an introduction to modelling wave-driven hydrodynamics and morphological response in sandy coastal environments. 
Learn to construct both 1D and 2D XBeach models and investigate the output from such models. 
The course was led by Dr Kit Stokes, a modeller with many years’ experience using XBeach for both research and consultancy purposes, and should be informative for anyone seeking a hands-on introduction to coastal hydro- and morpho-dynamic modelling in XBeach.
Site visit: Start Bay day trip (£50) – 4 July
The coastal field trip took us to the gravel beaches of Start Bay, South Devon. The field trip was led by Professor Gerd Masselink who has conducted research in Start Bay for 20 years, and consisted of a five-mile walk along the South West Coastal Path, from Start Point to the village of Torcross, with numerous stops. 
A very large range of features and issues were shown and discussed, including (more or less in order of appearance): interglacial highstand features at Mattiscombe Sands; the Holocene history of Start Bay; the role of Skerries Banks in modulating wave climate; the real story behind the ‘lost village of Hallsands’; how implementation of Coastal Change Management Areas could have avoided issues at north Hallsands; the use of back-barrier groundwater level as sea-level indicators; novel coastal engineering structures at Beesands; the relationship between Atlantic climate indices, waves and beach rotation; and, finally, current coastal management challenges at Torcross and the role of coastal partnerships.

Keynote speakers

Kevin Burgess, Coastal Engineer at Jacobs, and Professor Helene Burningham, Coastal Scientist at UCL were our keynote speakers at the conference. 
View the conference promotional video on YouTube

Scientific Organising Committee

Members of the Scientific Organising Committee were invited to join because of their experience and background in coastal research or applied science. Their primary role was in shaping the conference sessions to reflect the range of themes and the diverse range of presenters. They reviewed each abstract that was submitted and selected those for either an oral presentation or a poster session (as indicated by the author).
We are very grateful for their time and support for the UK CRC 2023. Please read their biographies below.

Dr Jenny Brown, Coastal Researcher at the National Oceanography Centre

Jenny's interests are in modelling and monitoring coastal flood and erosion hazards and their impacts. She studied Physical Oceanography with Maths at Bangor University and continued to do a PhD modelling sediment transport. She continued as a shelf seas modeller starting work in 2007 at the Proudman Oceanographic Institute, which in 2010 became the National Oceanography Centre. Jenny has worked on many different projects modelling shelf sea and estuarine processes as well as coastal impacts, such as beach response, shoreline evolution and flood inundation.

Professor Daniel Conley, Professor of Nearshore Processes and Associate Head of School (Marine Science), School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth

Prior to working at the University of Plymouth, Daniel was a Research Scientist at the NATO Undersea Research Centre in La Spezia Italy. Daniel brings over 35 years' experience in collecting field measurements in coastal and estuarine environments across the globe. He has particular expertise in the measurement and modelling of coastal sediment transport as well as experience in assessing resources and impacts for marine renewable energy developments.

Dr Suzana Ilic, Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University, Lancaster Environment Centre

Suzana has a specific interest in coastal hydrodynamics, sediment interactions, coastal geomorphology and the impacts of climate change and human interventions on the future of coastal environments. She is currently co-investigator on the Beachex project, funded by the Croatian Science Foundation. The project aims to determine the response of artificial gravel beaches to storms, and provide guidance for their design and long-term nourishment.
She works with local authorities and other organisations to deliver academic outputs as well as societal and commercial impacts. Dr Ilic is Coastal Advisor to the Environment Agency North West Regional Flooding and Coast Committee and a member of the North West Coastal Group. She is also a board member for the project Our Future Coast funded by the Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Resilience programme.

Dr Helen Jay, Senior National Consultant – Coast, National Trust

Academically Helen's background is in environmental science and coastal geomorphology, with her PhD focusing on the Formby coast sand dune system. Prior to joining the National Trust she worked for many years in consultancy, specifically in the development of shoreline management plans, coastal strategies, and defence schemes.Helen's current role at the National Trust involves providing advice and technical support to their property teams who look after around 800 miles of incredibly diverse coastline across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They face many challenges along their frontages in the face of coastal change, but this can also present opportunities to think and respond differently, to benefit both people and nature.
It is vital that management decisions along our coasts are driven by an understanding of coastal processes and geomorphological response and are based on the best available scientific evidence. Helen's particular interests therefore lie in progressing understanding of how our coastlines evolve in response to changing drivers and development of tools for projecting future coastal change, at decadal-plus timescales.

Dr Lee Swift, Principal Scientist in the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Research Team

Since completing his PhD on coastal morphological change at University College Cork, Lee has worked on a range of coastal and estuarine topics for the Environment Agency. These include Shoreline Management Plan development and implementation, establishing a coastal monitoring programme in the North West of England and assessing impacts of development on estuarine and coastal hydromorphology. In his current role, Lee oversees coastal research undertaken by the EA/Defra FCERM R&D Joint Programme. This includes working in partnership across government, industry and academic sectors to help manage the risk from flooding and coastal erosion through the application of robust evidence.

Dr Charlie Thompson, Lecturer in Coastal Processes and Sediment Dynamics and Director of Channel Coastal Observatory

Charlie is a Lecturer in Coastal Processes and Sediment Dynamics in the School of Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton, and Director of the Channel Coastal Observatory, which coordinates the National Network of Regional Coastal Monitoring Programmes (NNRCMP) in England. With a research focus on the interactions between water and land, she has over 20 years’ experience working on multi-disciplinary coastal research. Research interests include the complex interaction between coastal vegetation and sediment transport, resuspension processes and the exchange of solutes and particulates across the sediment-water interface, the fluid and solid transmitted stresses on the seabed, and novel techniques for monitoring coastal change. Through the NNRCMP, she ensures the collection of the evidence base which underpins Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in England, working to provide consistent, continuous, and cost-effective monitoring of coastal change and its drivers. 
Recent research includes the NERC Highlight topic “BLUEcoast, Physical and biological dynamic coastal processes and their role in coastal recovery’, the UKRI funded ‘Coastal Resilience’, and the Environment Agency funded National Coastal Erosion Risk Mapping projects.

Committee members

  • Dr Jenny Brown - Coastal Researcher at the National Oceanography Centre

    Dr Jenny Brown

  • Professor Daniel Conley, Professor of Nearshore Processes and Associate Head of School (Marine Science) in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences

    Professor Daniel Conley

  • Dr Suzana Ilic, Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University

    Dr Suzana Ilic

  • Dr Helen Jay, Senior National Consultant – Coast, National Trust

    Dr Helen Jay

  • Dr Lee Swift, Principal Scientist in the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Research Team

    Dr Lee Swift

  • Dr Charlie Thompson – Lecturer in Coastal
Processes and Sediment Dynamics and Director of Channel Coastal Observatory

    Dr Charlie Thompson

In partnership