UK & World News

  • 19 February 2014, 13:04

Coastal Erosion 'Ten Times Worse' After Storms

Scientists have warned coastal erosion may be 10 times worse this winter, due to the relentless storms that have battered the South West of England.

Academics from the University of Plymouth Coastal Research team have been monitoring the changes to beaches and cliffs along Cornwall's celebrated coastline for three years.

Using state-of-the-art equipment including seisometers, acoustic devices and thermal cameras, the team records even the tiniest of changes during and after each storm.

It is thought to be one of the most comprehensive experiments of its type ever conducted.

Professor in coastal geomorphologyGerd Masselink, who is leading the study, said: "We want to understand under what conditions and under what tides the beaches and cliffs are able to withstand the waves, or under what conditions they flood and fail.

"And if you know that then you have a tool that can predict the chances of coastal flooding as a result of these extreme storms."

He also predicts the effects of the recent severe weather will increase coastal erosion in some places by 1,000%.

"On average this coastline near Porthleven retreats by 20-30cm per year," Prof Masselink said. "But this year's continuous gale force winds and giant storms have taken their toll and we're looking at losing between two and three metres."

He hopes their findings will help inform decisions about where to avoid building homes and major infrastructure in the future as we learn to live with a changing climate and "more energetic seas".

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