Nicholls, R.J. and Mokrech, M.
Towards an integrated coastal sediment dynamics and shoreline response simulator Tyndall Research 50pp.
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This report describes a regional scale assessment of coastal erosion undertaken during the period
2000-2100 for a 30-km length of soft-rock coast between Weybourne and Happisburgh, northeast
Norfolk. This coastline comprises large lengths of soft, erodible, cliffs, which will be vulnerable to
increases in sea level and storminess under future changes in climate. The magnitude of erosion
during the next century is of concern to scientists, policymakers and the general public, especially
with the expectation of acceleration in sea-level rise. The regional-scale assessment considers
combined scenarios of sea-level rise, changing wave climate and coastal management, by
successfully integrating a number of modelled elements for the first time:
1. Broad scale modelling of shoreline erosion and profile evolution using the process-based
SCAPE (Soft Cliff and Platform Erosion) model;
2. A probabilistic model of cliff-top position derived from SCAPE outputs;
3. Nearshore wave climate modelling.
SCAPE describes the functioning and emergent behaviour of the coastal system at a regional scale,
and provides a detailed dataset for analysis of risk and responses to future coastal erosion. The
SCAPE model outputs have been linked with a flexible GIS tool (SCAPEGIS), developed to
provide visualisation and interpretation of the model results. Outputs are available in the form of
maps, dynamic visualisation, and descriptive statistics of key parameters such as cliff toe and cliff
top position. It also allows analysis with other datasets such as land use and building location for
impact evaluation, and hence could be used in shoreline management and cliff-top land use
This research seeks to address a shortfall in coastal erosion research in the UK, whereby analysis of
risks and responses to erosion at the coast is hindered by limited knowledge of the size and location
of erosion hazard zones. Through the process of considering potential impacts of sea level rise and
changing wave climates on rates of soft shore recession a number of questions have been raised
concerning the relative importance of shore platform lowering; the extent to which relative sea level
rise is controlling continuous cliff retreat; and the nature of the relationship between offshore
seabed morphology and coastal evolution. The modelling philosophy adopted by SCAPE offers
considerable scope for addressing questions such as these, and thereby provides an important step in
improving our understanding of coastal risk from climatic change. Using the approach developed
here, planners are provided with a method for examining broad-level system response with
combined management and climate-change scenarios.
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