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Forecasting coastal erosion and mapping the effects of climate change

Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney
"This research will forecast the extent of damage that could be caused to our precious coastlines through the effects of climate change"

The damage that climate change could cause to nearly one-fifth of Scotland’s coastline, and the steps that could be taken to mitigate it, will be forecast in a new two-year research project funded by the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), a partnership between the James Hutton Institute and Scottish universities.

The next phase of will use the latest monitoring techniques to map and categorise the resilience of the Scottish coast and identify the links between erosion and flooding.

The research, led by the Scottish Government and SNH and carried out by the University of Glasgow launches in January and will focus on specific study sites including Montrose Bay, St Andrews and Skara Brae to forecast future change and erosional damage and also work with stakeholders like local authorities, SEPA and Historic Environment Scotland to develop plans to mitigate these effects.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said: “Rising sea levels, increased coastal erosion and flooding have caused substantial damage to our coastlines and communities over the last few decades and the pace of erosion is increasing. We need to take action now to adapt and adjust to these changes.

“This research will forecast the extent of damage that could be caused to our precious coastlines through the effects of climate change and will work with communities, local authorities, transport agencies and other planning bodies to develop plans to manage coastal change before it’s too late.”

Scottish Natural Heritage is managing Chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Scotland’s beaches and dunes play a vital role in protecting £13 billion-worth of buildings and roads. That is more than twice that currently protected by seawalls.  By their dynamic nature, shifting sand dunes can replenish areas of shoreline; as such they are our natural defences. This ensures that our beaches and dunes can be a natural ally in combating the effects of climate change.

“By working with nature at the coast, we can help ease and adapt to climate change impacts – in particular sea level rise and storms. We and our partners in Dynamic Coast are committed to forecasting future risks and highlight where we can help nature to help us build resilience to climate change and ensure existing and future development is secure.”

Dynamic Coast’s Principal Investigator, the University of Glasgow’s Professor Jim Hansom, said: “We are now facing decades of future sea level rise and increasing erosion and flooding at the coast, so we need to better understand the increased risk posed by climate change to coastal assets and communities. We need to know whether to adapt, defend or move those coastal assets as well as how social justice might be better incorporated into future policies. Failure to act now will lead to enhanced costs and impacts later.”

Jannette MacDonald, CREW Manager, commented: "CREW recognise the strategic importance of Scotland's coastal assets to the economy, environment and societal benefit. This second phase of the project will further enhance our understanding of the risks to these critical national assets and what we need to do to mitigate these risks.

"CREW is delighted to be funding such a strategically important project that will inform policy and pro-active action."

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/forecasting-coastal-erosion-and-mapping-effects-climate-change on 02/12/23 08:33:26 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.