Communities warned to prepare for effects of climate change along the UK coastline

By Nikki Bruce - 13 Mar 2011 10:50:0 GMT
Communities warned to prepare for effects of climate change along the UK coastline

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an influential body in the area of climate change, has released a report which details the devastating effects of climate change on the UK's coastlines in the near future. The report, titled 'Impacts of Climate Change on Disadvantaged UK Costal Communitites' examines the current impact that the changing climate has already had on the coastline and predicts the effects that it will have by 2080.

Although 2080 may seem like a long time into the future at the moment, officials at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation argue that the government and coastline communities need to start considering contingency plans if they are to survive the changes. In the report it is stated that 'the total rise in sea levels off the UK coast may exceed one metre, and could potentially reach two metres'. With the increase in the frequency of storms and rising sea levels this could mean damaging consequences for coastal communities.

Coastal towns are already susceptible to many problems such as economic deprivation and other related socio-economic problems. It is also feared that if the towns are badly affected by the climate changes then as a direct result, tourism will also suffer.

Tourism is currently one of the main ways that these towns are able to survive and is vitally important. Also, the population of coastal towns largely consists of elderly communities who are one of the most vulnerable sections of society; therefore it is imperative that the issues caused by the receding coastlines are addressed sooner rather than later.

It is estimated that each coastal town will be affected differently depending upon which part of the UK it is located in. For example, winter precipitation is expected to rise significantly on the north and west coasts of the UK sparking concerns for an increase in severe flooding. In the east the coastlines are made of soft-sediment and therefore will be subject to erosion.

The UK government hasn't been completely negligent when it comes to coastline defences; they currently use a 'hold-the-line' tactic where the use of 'hard' defences is being employed, such as sea walls. There are pros and cons to this policy of defence, but as the sea levels inch ever higher there will increasingly be calls to evaluate its effectiveness. Something which the authors of the report are urging the government and communities to avoid postponing defences.