Extreme Atlantic Wave Activity during 2013-14 Winter and Coastal Impacts in the South West of England
  • The B-Bar, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth PL1 2NJ

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Speaker: Professor Gerd Masselink, Professor of Coastal Geomorphology, Plymouth University.

Studies of coastal vulnerability due to climate change tend to focus on the relatively linear consequences of sea-level rise, rather than the more complex coastal responses resulting from changes to the extreme wave climate. 

In this presentation, Professor Gerd Masselink will discuss the 2013-14 winter wave conditions that severely impacted the Atlantic coast of Europe and relate these to historical wave conditions. He will demonstrate that the 2013-14 winter was the most energetic winter along most of the Atlantic coast of Europe since at least 1949, with conditions most extreme for South West England and France. 

Along the most exposed sites in the south west of England, unprecedented beach and dune erosion occurred due to offshore sediment transport with sediment losses of up to 200 m3 per unit meter beach width. More sheltered sites experienced less erosion or even accretion. 

Along several beaches along the south coast of South West England, beaches rotated due to alongshore sediment transport, and experienced erosion on on end of the beach and accretion at the other end.

The occurrence of the extreme 2013-14 winter is in line with historical trends in wave conditions and is also predicted to increasingly occur due to climate change. Conditions such as those encountered during the 2013-14 winter have the potential to dramatically change the equilibrium state of beaches in the south west of England, and, indeed, along the Atlantic coast of Europe.

Professor Gerd Masselink is Associate Head of School for Marine Science and Engineering at Plymouth University, with a particular focus on Coastal Geomorphology. 

Plymouth SciBar note

Attendance is free for this event but we suggest a contribution of £2 per person. The British Science Association is a voluntary organisation which relies on contributions from its audience to continue running events. All money received goes back into running similar projects in the city and wider South West region!

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