Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Climate change and rising seas increase rate of coastal erosion

Authorities in charge of Britain’s coastline must face up to the fact that huge areas will be lost to erosion and large scale cliff collapses, engineers said this week.

Consultant Halcrow’s lead earth engineering and science technologist Roger Moore said a combination of rising sea levels and more winter rain would contribute to higher levels of coastal erosion.

“It is a natural process and the broad message is that it is likely to worsen in the future,’ said Moore.

His comment s followed another dramatic collapse on Dorset’s Jurassic coastline last week.

Thousands of tonnes of rock slid onto the beach at St Oswald’s Bay, east of Durdle Door.

Morr said most cliff collapses begin with seawater eroding the base of a cliff, “priming the slope to fail”.

“The effect of rainfall becomes important as the groundwater levels in the slope are raised; this increases the pressure in the rock, triggering the event,” said Moore.

British Geological Survey engineer and geologist Tom Dijkstra said the St Oswald’s collapse was likely to have been a delayed reaction as it occurred despite falling groundwater levels.

“Like glacial movements there is a significant delay factor and larger landslides tend to need a lot of precursory driving before responding - in this case - to the waterlogging that has built up over the last year,” he said.

South West Coast Path trail officer Mark Owen said there were usually around four of five collapses a year along the 1,000km path which runs from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset.

He said that this year there had been more than 30.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.