Developing sustainable solutions against coastal erosion

The University of Liverpool is part of a partnership that has been awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as one of six new research projects that aim to build a sustainable future for the marine environment and all those whose livelihoods depend on it.

The ‘Co-Opt’ project, led by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and also involves Cranfield University and St Andrews University, will develop new tools that will allow better decisions to be made to both protect coasts from changing climate and help deliver net zero ambitions.

Protecting the coast by maintaining hard ‘grey’ defences against flooding and erosion such as traditional sea walls, as currently planned, is unlikely to be cost-effective.

The newly proposed sustainable coastal management and adaptation will therefore require a broader range of actions, and greater use of softer ‘green’ solutions that work with nature, this includes restoration of coastal habitats such as saltmarshes or vegetated dunes.

Project lead Dr Laurent Amoudry, Associate Head of Marine Physics and Ocean Climate at the National Oceanography Centre, said: “NOC will quantify the positive and negative environmental impacts of different management approaches under future climate scenarios.”

“We are excited to work with coastal managers in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as international partners, to establish new tools to quantify social and economic values of approaches that work with nature. Our results will allow better decisions to be made that both protect our coasts from the changing climate and also help deliver other key objectives, such as net zero.”

Coastal hazards will be increasing over the next century, primarily driven by unavoidable sea level rise. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that UK coasts are managed so that coastal protection is resilient to future climate change.

Coastal flooding was the second highest risk after pandemic flu on the UK government’s risk register in 2017. Additionally, over 1.8 million homes are at risk of coastal flooding and erosion in England alone.