Professor Paul Russell
Professor of Coastal Dynamics
School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
- Nearshore waves
- Coastal erosion
- Surf science
- Beach processes
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Programme Leader, Marine Science Masters Scheme
Deputy Programme Leader, MSc/MRes Marine Renewable Energy
Deputy Programme Leader, MSc/MRes Applied Marine Science
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Certificate of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
2009 Professor of Coastal Dynamics, School of Marine Science and Engineering, University of Plymouth
2003 Reader in Coastal Dynamics, University of Plymouth
2000 Principal Lecturer and Associate Dean (Graduate School, Faculty of Science), University of Plymouth
1994 Senior Lecturer, Institute of Marine Studies, University of Plymouth
1992 Lecturer in Physical Oceanography, Institute of Marine Studies, University of Plymouth
1990-92 Post-Doctoral Research Associate, NERC British Beach And Nearshore Dynamics programme, Universities of Cardiff, Hull and Plymouth
1990 PhD 'Field studies of sediment transport on high energy beaches', University of Wales Swansea
1985 BSc Hons Oceanography, University of Wales Swansea, (Oceanography Society prize for top final degree result)
1981 City of Leicester Boys Grammar School, A levels in Physics, Biology and Geography (all grade A)
Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy - Recognition number 4609 (1-6-2000)
Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE)
UK Coastal Zone Network (COZONE)
European Network for Coastal Research (ENCORA)
*** Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy ***
I am a marine scientist, and as a trained oceanographer I have taught a wide variety of modules including: all aspects of physical oceanography (waves, tides, ocean circulation, dynamics of marine ecosystems), coastal processes, coastal management / engineering, hydrodynamics, remote sensing, marine pollution, marine resources and postgraduate research skills. I also led a Stage 3 overseas fieldweek for 10 years (2004-2014; Marine Sports SW France fieldweek).
My main teaching interests are at postgraduate level. I was Admissions Tutor from 1993-95, Programme Leader 1995-2000 and Deputy Programme Leader 2001-present for the MSc Applied Marine Science that is run in collaboration with Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). During my time as Course Leader I increased the number of NERC studentship awards from two to six (the maximum) and so helped establish the MSc Applied Marine Science as one of the UK's premier MSc courses. I introduced a new module to the course in 'Coastal Erosion and Protection' and so established a strong pathway through the degree in 'Coastal Management and Engineering.' Many former MSc Applied Marine Science students who took this pathway have gone on to be excellent coastal research students and many others are now widely spread across UK and international marine consultancy companies.
Building on the success of the MSc Applied Marine Science, in 2000 I became Associate Dean (Graduate School) for the Faculty of Science. This post involved expanding the range of Masters provision across the Faculty based on the Applied Marine Science model and establishing a Faculty Graduate School that provided a continuum of postgraduate training from MSc (4 months research) to MRes (9 months research) to formal PhD research training. I was Director of Postgraduate Programmes for the resulting MSc/MRes Environmental and Marine Sciences scheme, that was one of the University's largest Masters schemes with an annual intake of around 120 students studying on 10 different Masters pathways, from 2000-2015. The last addition to that scheme was an MSc/MRes Marine Renewable Energy that had its first intake in October 2010.
At undergraduate level I have taught on a wide range of marine modules with particular expertise in teaching complex physical oceanography to a wide range of student abilities using active learning in interactive structured lectures. I have led modules in physical oceanography, waves and tides, ocean circulation, the global ocean and hydrodynamics and contributed to modules on remote sensing, marine pollution and marine resources. For 10 years I led the BSc Marine Sports Stage 3 SW France fieldtrip to Biarritz, France (week long field work with 40-50 students).
*** In 2011, nominated as an inspiring speaker through Robert Peston's (BBC business editor) 'Speakers for Schools' programme ***
Staff serving as external examiners
External Examiner for the PhD of Martin Austin, 'Swash, groundwater and sediment transport processes on a gravel beach,' Department of Geography, University of Loughborough, 9th November 2005.
*** VC Enterprise Awards 2011 'Innovative Research Award' Finalist ***
*** Part of delegation to the Guildhall / Buckingham Palace to receive the Queens Anniversary Award, 'Education and research solutions for the global marine sector', 2011-2015 ***
My research interests include beach processes, field studies of coastal hydrodynamics and sediment transport, coastal erosion and surf science. I am UoA 7 Co-ordinator for REF2021 and have been returned as part of the University's top rated units in Environmental Sciences and Geography in all the UK Government's Research Assessment Exercises (1996, 2001, 2008, 2014) since becoming an academic.
From 2005-2009 I led the Coastal Processes Research Group (www.coastalprocesses.org), one of the University's largest and strongest research groups, with 8 members returned in UoA 17 for the RAE2008. The University's RAE2008 UoA 17 bid was its largest and best performing unit with 36.5 staff submitted, and half of the outputs rated as 3* (internationally excellent) or 4* (world leading). The RAE committee highlighted '...a developing strength in coastal oceanography'.
I currently lead the University-approved Centre for Research in Coastal and Ocean Science and Engineering (CCOSE) (www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/ccose) that brings together a coherent group of staff from the marine physical sciences, physical geography and coastal engineering. 21 of the 24 CCOSE academic staff were RAE2008-returned in some of the University's best perfoming UoA's (Environmental Sciences, Geography and Civil Enginering).
Previous advances in my own research include the role of infragravity waves in beach erosion (via the NERC British Beach and Nearshore Dynamics programme, 1990-1993); new understanding of sediment transport in the swash zone (via my NERC swash grant, 2000-2003); the development of a new cross-shore sediment transport 'shape function' model (via my NERC cross-shore sediment transport grant, 2004-2008); the development of a new technique to make direct measurements of beach erosion/accretion at the timescale of individual waves (via my EPSRC sabbatical visit to UNSW Australia, 2005); new understanding of the dynamics of rip currents and implications for beach safety (via a NERC Partnership grant with RNLI, 2010-2013); the coastal impact of extreme storms (via two EPSRC grants and a NERC Urgency Grant 2014) and the biological and physical mechanisms of coastal erosion and recovery (via the NERC BLUE-coast grant till 2020).
1. Understanding shoreline erosion/accretion via new bed-level measurements
As part of my EPSRC overseas travel grant in 2005 working with Dr Ian Turner at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, we developed a new ultrasonic bed-level instrument for measuring shoreline erosion/accretion at the wave-by-wave timescale. EPSRC assessed this grant as 'outstanding' and 'internationally leading in research quality, potential scientific impact and cost effectiveness'. This work led to succesfull grant applications to the Australian Research Council (2007-2010) and to NERC (2008-2010) to deploy an array of such instruments on sand and gravel beaches. The data is providing new understanding of the processes responsible for shoreline erosion and accretion. The latest application of this work is in the EPSRC NUPSIG project (2011-14) which is looking at storm impacts on gravel beaches.
2. Rip currents and their link to beach morphology and beach safety
As part of a Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF2) PhD studentship 50% funded by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), with PhD student Tim Scott, we have been able to link wave-induced changes in beach morphology to rip currents and so to beach safety. As a result we are able to predict at what times certain beaches will be at their most dangerous. We are continuing to develop this work with the RNLI through a ~ £0.5M NERC Partnership Grant to improve our understanding of rip currents on macrotidal beaches. This NERC Partnership Grant started 1st April 2010 and has involved two large scale field experiments at Perranpoth beach in 2011. We are currently developing a Natonal Rip Current Forecast with the Met Office. The project with RNLI was extended into 2014 to cover rips controlled by structures such as groynes, and extra fieldwork was carried on on this aspect at Bournemouth.
*** This work was featured on a NERC Planet Earth podcast ***
Impact is demonstrated by this receiving over 220,000 individual views.
*** Coverage on BBC news ***
3. Wave hub impacts on seabed and shoreline processes (WHISSP)
With PhD student Tim Poate, and PDRA Martin Austin, we are carrying out regular 3D surveys of the beaches in the lee of the proposed wave hub in St Ives Bay. These particular beaches sit on the dissipative (flat) / intermediate (with bars and rips) boundary and slight decreases in wave height and/or increases in wave period will increase the time these beaches spend in the intermediate state. This is important as intermediate beach states are more dangerous due to their bar and rip current features. The plan is to continue these measurements until after the wave energy devices have been deployed in 2012 so that any changes to the beaches (in terms of erosion, accretion, beach state, surfability etc) can be monitored. An EU grant proposal SOWFIA (Study of Wave Farm Impacts Assessment), that commenced October 2010, seeks to extend this work to a number of other sites round Europe and establish a co-ordinated European Policy for Impact Assessment. This work was taken forward by Kit Stokes PhD, 2011-2014 and related publications.
4. The impact of climate change on coastal erosion
I am co-author of the annually updated 'Impacts of Climate Change on UK Coastal Erosion and Coastal Geomorphology', part of the Marine Climate Change Impact Partnership Annual Report Card,
Research degrees awarded to supervised students
Post-Doctoral Research Fellows:
1. Dr Jak McCarroll. NERC BLUE-coast grant, 2016-2020
2. Dr Tim Poate. EPSRC NUPSIG grant, 2011-2014
3. Dr Martin Austin. NERC rips grant, 2010-2013.
4. Dr Tim Scott. Knowledge Exchange Fellow, NERC rips grant, 2010-2013
5. Dr Chris Blenkinsopp. ARC Bed-level project, 2007-2010.
6. Dr Martin Austin. SWRDA-PRIMARE WHISSP project, 2007-2010.
7. Dr Tony Butt. NERC X-Shore grant, 2004-2007.
8. Dr Martin Austin. NERC X-shore grant 2005-2006.
9. Dr Tony Butt. NERC swash grant, 2000-2004.
10. Dr Jon Miles. NERC swash grant, 2001-2003.
11. Dr Andrew Saulter. EPSRC COSMOD project, 1998-2001.
12. Dr Jon Miles. EU COAST3D project, 1997-2001.
13. Dr Yolanda Foote. NERC macrotidal beaches grant, 1994-1995.
PhD supervision - two current students:
1. Oliver Billson. Coastal response to extreme storms: the role of infragravity waves. Funded by Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory / European RDF. 1st October 2016 -
2. Mark Wiggins. Coastal cell response to a changing wave climate using autonomous aerial surveying. QR funded. 1st January 2016 -
PhD completion - 20 completions:
1. Oliver Burvingt. Impacts of extreme storms on coastal geomorphology. Funded by SMSE, 2014-18. PhD awarded.
2. Kris Inch. Infragravity wave dynamics on high energy beaches. Funded by ICS. 2013-2017. PhD awarded.
3. Sam Prodger. Sediment grain size & sorting on high energy beaches. Self-funded. 2013-2017. PhD awarded.
4. Antony Thorpe. Sediment Transport in Rips. Funded by NERC. 2016. PhD awarded
5. Kit Stokes. Coastal Impacts of Marine Renewables. Funded by SMSE. 2011-2015. PhD awarded.
6. Claire Earlie. Coastal Cliff Erosion in Cornwall. Funded by ESF-CUC. 2011-2015. PhD awarded.
7. Luis Pedro Melo De Almeida. Coastal Resilience in Extreme Storms. Funded by EPSRC. 2011-2015. PhD awarded.
8. Rob McCall. XBEACH on gravel beaches. Funded by EPSRC NUPSIG project. 2011-2015. PhD awarded.
9. Ellie Woodward. Rip Currents and Implications for Beach Safety. Funded by MI / RNLI. 2012-2015. PhD awarded.
10. Gabriela Garcia-Rubio. Shoreline changes in the Yucatan Peninsula. Funded by CONACYT (Mexican Government), 2007- 2011. PhD awarded.
11. Tim Poate. Morphological change on high energy beaches in the lee of the Wave Hub. Funded by SWRDA via the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMARE). 2008-2011. PhD awarded.
12. Robert Brewin. Investigation of the role of phytoplankton functional types in CO2 flux variability. Funded by a NERC studentship, 2007-2010. PhD awarded.
13. Tim Scott. Classification and risk assessment of UK beaches. Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF2) studentship with the RNLI. 2006-2009. PhD awarded.
14. Jonathan Tinker. Modelling profile evolution on natural beaches with a sediment flux shape function. Tied-studentship on my NERC X-Shore grant. 2004-2008. PhD awarded.
15. George Graham. The effect of vegetation on sediment deposition in salt marshes. NERC quota studentship. 2004-2008. PhD awarded.
16. Darren Evans. The role of swash in shoreline change. Tied-studentship on my NERC swash grant with Loughborough Uni. 2000-2004. PhD awarded.
17. Ismael Marino-Tapia. Understanding profile changes on beaches. Funded by CONACYT (Mexican Government), 1999-2003. PhD awarded.
18. Tony Butt. Swash zone sediment transport on natural beaches, 1997-1999. PhD awarded.
19. Andrew Saulter. Infragravity wave driven sediment transport on beaches, 1994-1999. PhD awarded.
20. Jon Miles. Enhanced sediment transport near seawalls and reflective beaches, 1993-1997. PhD awarded.
Grants & contracts
Total funded grant income as a named investigator is £4.3 million to Plymouth from 24 grants:
1. Physical and Biological Dynamic Coastal Processes and their Role in Coastal Recovery (BLUE-coast). £760k to Plymouth. NERC special highlights topic round. Investigators: Masselink, Russell, Conley and Scott. 1st May 2016 - 1st May 2020.
2. 3D beach surveys in the lee of Wave Hub. £8000, Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF2), PI Russell, 2014-2016
3. Impact of Sequence of Extreme Storms during Winter 2013/14 on the Southwest Coast of England. £65,000 to Plymouth. NERC Urgency Grant. Investigators: Masselink, Russell, Davidson, Conley and Fletcher. 1st March 2014 - 1st September 2015.
4. Coastal Cliff Erosion in Cornwall. £60,000. Funded by The National Trust and European Social Fund. PhD Studentship awarded to Masselink and Russell. 1st October 2011 to 30th September 2014.
5. Adaptation and resilience of coastal energy supply (ARCoS). £200,000 to Plymouth. EPSRC collaborative grant with Liverpool University and others. PU investigators Masselink and Russell. This project looks at the coastal resilience of the UKs coastal power stations in extreme storms and includes a PhD studentship based at Plymouth, supervised by Masselink and Russell. Project commenced 1st August 2011 and runs till 1st August 2017.
6. New understanding and prediction of storm impacts on gravel beaches (NUPSIG). £515,000 EPSRC proposal approved for funding. PI Masselink with CI's Russell and Davidson. This project makes use of the bed-level sensors (project 15 below) to obtain new measurements of overwash processes on gravel beaches. Commenced 1st March 2011 and runs till autumn 2014.
7. 'Toporip' - Dynamics of rip currents around coastal structures. A 6 month extension from the DRIBS project funded by RNLI, Met Office and HEIF. £100,000. Spring 2013 - autumn 2013.
8. Dynamics of Rip Currents and Implications for Beach Safety (DRIBS). £495,000 NERC Partnership Proposal approved for funding. PI, Masselink with CI, Russell. This proposal follows directly on from my HEIF2/RNLI PhD studentship (project 13 below). Commenced 1st April 2010 and runs till spring 2013.
9. Study of Ocean Wave Farm Impacts Assessment (SOWFIA). EU proposal, approved for funding but final amounts still being negotiated with EU. Original bid was for 4.2M euro of which UoP share is 1.275M euro. Project commenced 1st October 2010. Project Co-ordinator is Dr Deborah Greaves (UoP) with nine other UoP staff (including Russell) and 10 partner institutes round Europe.
10. Wave hub impacts on seabed and shoreline processes (WHISSP). £560,000 from the Peninsula Research Institute in Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMARE) funded by the SWRDA, 2007-2010. Williams, Russell and others. My role in this project, with my PhD student Tim Poate, involved monitoring changes in beach morphology on the popular tourist beaches in the lee of the wave hub, see http://www.wavehub.co.uk/
11. Beach change over individual wave cycles on sand and gravel beaches. £92,029 funded by the NERC, 2008-2010 (NE/F009275/1). PI, Masselink with CI, Russell. This project funded the deployment of the PU sediment transport measuring equipment with the bed-level array (see 15 below) at sand (Truc Vert, France) and gravel (Slapton, UK) beach sites. The aim was to advance quantitative understanding of fundamental erosion/accretion processes at the shoreline on natural beaches, and improve modelling capabilities of swash zone sediment transport and beach change.
12. Wave-by-wave bed-level changes at the beachface of gravel and sand beaches. (ARC: DP0770118). £129,000 funded by the Australian Research Council, 2007-2010. CI Turner (UNSW, Australia) with PIs, Russell and Masselink (PU). This project built on the success of my overseas travel grant (refer 15below). Specifically it purchased and developed a 40-sensor bed-level array for deployment at the shoreline on sand (Truc Vert, France) and gravel (Slapton, UK) beaches.
13. Classification and Risk Assessment of UK Beaches. £30,000 from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and matching £30,000 from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF2). PhD studentship. PI, Russell, 2006-2009. An extra £10,000 was awarded by the RNLI in January 2009 to extend the work for another year.
14. Cross-shore sediment transport and profile evolution on natural beaches (X-SHORE project). Funded by the NERC. PI, Russell. Co-Is, O'Hare and Masselink. £235,000 to UoP, 2004 - 2008. This project used detailed measurements of sediment transport in the nearshore zone to refine a 'shape function' model of on-offshore transport which is then tested against field data on a barred beach site.
15. Development of innovative instrumentation to measure high frequency bed level changes in the swash zone. EPSRC overseas travel grant. Collaboration with Dr Turner, Water Research Laboratory, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. PI, Russell. £6500. Feb-Oct, 2005. The Individual Grant Review was rated as 'outstanding' overall, and 'internationally leading in research quality, potential scientific impact and cost effectiveness.'
16. Development of new instrumentation at the University of New South Wales, Australia, to measure swash zone bathymetry to support participation in international research programme (SWASH3D). UNSW Engineering Faculty Research grant awarded to Turner and Russell. £2500. Feb-March 2005. This small grant funded the purchase of materials to construct and test the first prototype instrument at UNSW during Russell’s sabbatical visit (see 15 above).
17. Planning for an integrated field study of swash zone processes (SWASH3D). US Office of Naval Research (ONR) - Global. Collaborators: Coco (NZ), Puleo (USA), Raubenheimer (USA), Reniers (NL), Russell (UK) andTurner (AUS). £11,250 from the Conference Support Program to fund a planning meeting for the proposed SWASH3D field experiment, analysis and modelling. University of Delaware, March 2005.
18. The role of swash in shoreline change. Funded by the NERC. PI, Russell. Co-Is, Huntley and Masselink (University of Loughborough). £239,000 to PU, October 2000-2003. This project made detailed measurements of sediment transport in the swash zone of steep and shallow beaches and used these data to determine the processes of shoreline change. The grant included collaboration with Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California.
19. COSMOD: Quantification of sediment entrainment in the coastal zone. Funded by the EPSRC. Collaborative project with Cambridge University and the University of Liverpool. PU PIs, Russell and Huntley. £127,000 to UoP, 1998-2001. In this project we deployed an innovative sector scanning sonar and precision altimeters to monitor the evolution of bedforms inside the surf zone. The Individual Grant Review rated the UoP component of this project as ‘tending to outstanding’ and ‘internationally leading in both research quality and research planning and practice.’
20. COAST3D: Coastal study of three-dimensional sand transport processes and morphodynamics. Funded under the EU MArine Science and Technology (MAST) III programme. Collaborative project with various European partners. PU PIs, Russell, Huntley and Bird. £322,000 to UoP, 1997-2001. This project used extensive field measurements to improve large-scale morphodynamic models in the coastal zone. Our input was in measuring and characterising the influence of long period waves on the sediment transport, through large-scale field experiments in Holland and at Teignmouth in the UK.
21. NICOP: Naval International Collaborative Opportunity Program. Intermediate scale coastal behaviour: Measurement, modelling and prediction. Funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR). PU PI, Huntley. The total project is $740,000 co-ordinated from Plymouth, with a PU share of £139,000, 1997-2001. As part of this project I visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility at Duck, North Carolina during the SANDYDUCK nearshore sediment transport experiments in 1997.
22. INDIA: Inlet Dynamics Initiative, Algarve. Funded under the EU MArine Science and Technology (MAST) III programme. Collaborative project with various European partners. PU PIs, Huntley and Davidson. £93,000, 1997-2000. This project examined the movement of the barrier islands off Faro in Portugal using video remote sensing.
23. SASME: Swash and Surf Zone Mechanics. Funded under the EU MArine Science and Technology (MAST) III programme. Collaborative project with various European partners. PU PIs, Huntley and Bird. £93,000, 1997-2000. This was a laboratory based project.
24. Sand transport on macrotidal beaches. Funded by the NERC. PIs, Russell and Huntley. £18,000, 1994-1995. This grant involved the collation of a number of nearshore datasets collected during the British Beach And Nearshore Dynamics (B-BAND) programme, to show consistent patterns in sediment transport on a variety of different beaches. The project report was rated ‘good’ by the NERC.
To date, a total of 160 research publications plus three book chapters, one special issue of the Journal of Coastal Research and one text book with over 25,000 copies sold.
Key publications are highlightedJournals
Other academic activities
REF2021 UoA7 Co-ordinator, (Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences), the University's largest and top performing unit, achieving 85% 3*/4* in REF2014 with 45 staff returned.
Research Centre Lead for the University-approved: Centre for Coastal and Ocean Science and Engineering (CCOSE) which covers some of the Universitys strongest research areas in coastal processes, physical oceanography, coastal engineering and marine renewable energy.
Programme Leader MSc/MRes Environmental and Marine Sciences (EMS) scheme (2000 - 2014), one of the University's largest Masters schemes with an annual intake of 120 students studying on 10 different Masters pathways. Includes MSc, MRes and Faculty PhD Research Training. During the time I led the EMS scheme, over 1000 Masters students successfully graduated from it.
Leader Coastal Processes Research Group (2006 - 2009), one of the University's longest established and highest profile research groups.
From 2000 to 2005, worked as a 'role model' for the EPSRC's New Outlooks in Science and Engineering (NOISE) campaign aimed at attracting more young people into careers in science and engineering.
Former Competitive Surfing Career
Former European Surfing Champion in Open (1983-85) and Senior (1991-93) divisions. Winner of the first European Professional Surfing Circuit in 1984. Twice British Champion. Six times English Champion. Five times British Universities Champion.
Highest ranking in World Surfing Championships: 3rd Juniors, 7th Open. Highest placed European surfer at biennial World Championships in 1980, 1984, 1986 & 1988. British Team Captain at biennial World Championships in 1984, 1986 & 1988. Former British and English Team coach. Former British Surfing Association Executive Committee member.
In 2004 voted the 4th best ever British surfer by Carve magazine’s poll (behind Russell Winter, Carwyn Williams and Rodney Sumpter). Sponsored by Alder Sportswear since 1981. Well known throughout the British & European surfing industry and community.
Brief Biography (2018)
Paul Russell, Professor of Coastal Dynamics, is a Physical Oceanographer and former European Surfing Champion who was born in Leicester, about as far away as you can get from the sea in the UK. ‘My Mum was a Geography teacher and swim coach, and my Dad was a professional footballer turned teacher, so education and sport were key in our family. We spent the long summer holidays at Treyarnon in North Cornwall, where I leant to surf at age 7. I still remember my first ride, standing on a moving surfboard and looking down at the water moving under the surfboard – a moving surface on a moving surface, like skiing on a moving mountain. That water motion associated with breaking waves also shapes our coastlines and it is something I have spent the rest of my life studying.’
After completing an Oceanography degree and PhD at Swansea University, Paul obtained a 3-year postdoctoral position funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) on the ‘British Beach and Nearshore Dynamics’ programme, a project shared between the Universities of Cardiff, Hull and Plymouth. By making measurements on different beaches around the UK coastline, the work ultimately led to the ‘shape function’ model of sediment transport on beaches, showing how waves erode sand from beaches during storms and how that sand returns to the shore during calmer periods with smaller waves.
Paul joined Plymouth University on 1st September 1992 as a Lecturer in Physical Oceanography. Aswell as establishing his coastal research with a number of prestigious grants from NERC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), he also led the University’s new MSc Applied Marine Science. The reputation of this course grew and it became one of the country’s top MSc’s, at one time attracting six studentships (the maximum available) from NERC. This success prompted an expansion of the science Masters offer at Plymouth. The resulting ‘Environmental and Marine Science’ (EMS) Masters scheme, which Paul leads, has 140 students per year studying on six interconnected Masters courses, and over 1000 students have graduated from it since its inception. These EMS Masters courses provide graduates for industry and also underpin the research of some of the University’s most successful research areas in Marine and Environmental sciences. The most recent course added to this scheme was the MSc Marine Renewable Energy in 2009. Paul led the proposal and approval for this course, which is a World first in this rapidly expanding field.
The Masters students have contributed excellent PhD students and Post-doctoral researchers to the University’s Coastal Processes Research Group (CPRG). Paul was one of the founding members of this research group in the mid-90’s and led it for a number of years. CPRG has established itself as the UK’s leading field based coastal research group. It has always held a number of RCUK research grants and has built a substantial state-of-the-art equipment base for studying coastal waves, currents and morphology. Crucially it has also built up a sustainable knowledge base of experienced academic staff, technical staff, Postdoctoral researchers, PhD students and Masters students. This is essential as many of the coastal fieldwork projects involve large teams of trained researchers deploying equipment, surveying and monitoring. In April 2013 the CPRG hosted the World’s largest coastal conference the International Coastal Symposium, in Plymouth University, with over 500 delegates attending.
An example of a recent high impact research project is Paul’s joint project with colleague Professor Gerd Masselink; a NERC Partnership grant with the Royal National Lifeboat Insitution (RNLI), the ‘Dynamics of Rip Currents and Implications for Beach Safety’ (DRIBS) project. Rip currents are responsible for around 70% of lifeguard rescues. By making innovative measurements of rip currents with specialised GPS drifters in different wave and tide conditions, we are now able to predict in what conditions, and exactly what times, certain beaches will be at their most dangerous. Working in conjunction with the Met Office we have been able to provide RNLI lifeguards with rip forecasts for their beach. This work has received extensive news coverage, featured on the BBC ‘Bang Goes the Theory’ TV programme and was made into a NERC Planet Earth podcast that received over 220,000 individual views.
In terms of outreach, Paul worked as a 'role model' for the EPSRC's New Outlooks in Science and Engineering (NOISE) campaign aimed at attracting more young people into careers in science and engineering. The campaign promotional material used Paul’s background as a champion surfer to show that physics can be cool! To help make his work accessible to a mass audience Paul co-authored an introductory text book on waves, ‘Surf Science’, published by the University of Hawaii Press, that has now sold over 25,000 copies worldwide.
One of the big questions in coastal science is what are the likely effects of climate change on our coastlines, in particular how will sea-level rise and any changes in winds, waves or storminess affect our coastlines? Which parts of the UK coast may become prone to flooding or erosion in the future? To advise policymakers, Paul and Gerd contribute a regularly updated overview, 'Impacts of Climate Change on UK Coastal Erosion and Coastal Geomorphology', as part of the Marine Climate Change Impact Partnership (MCCIP) Annual Report Card. In 2014 they received a NERC Urgency grant to look specifically at the impacts of extreme storms on the coastline of southwest England. The exceptional storms of winter 2014 produced the largest waves to hit the southwest coastline for over 60 years, causing extensive coastal damage including undermining and collapsing the seawall at Dawlish that carries the main Penzance to London rail line. This resulted in a 2-month closure of the main rail line in and out of the southwest, with economic losses to the region estimated at £10 million per day.
Paul currently leads the University-approved Centre for Research in Coastal and Ocean Science and Engineering (CCOSE) (www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/ccose) that brings together a coherent group of staff specialising in coastal processes, marine physics and coastal engineering. He contributed to the Queens Anniversary Award, 'Education and research solutions for the global marine sector', 2011-2015, and was part of the delegation that attended the Guildhall / Buckingham Palace to receive the award. In 2011 he was short-listed for the University’s Innovative Research Award.
Paul Russell is Professor of Coastal Dynamics in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, Head of the University’s Centre for Research in Coastal and Ocean Science and Engineering (CCOSE) and UoA7 Co-ordinator for REF2021. He has authored over 150 research papers and has received £5M of grant income to the University of Plymouth as a named investigator on 24 research grants mostly, from NERC and EPSRC. He has 19 PhD completions and 3 current PhD students.
(Centre for Coastal and Ocean Science and Engineering)
(Coastal Processes Research Group)