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    Importance of decadal scale variability in shoreline response: examples from soft rock cliffs, East Anglian coast, UK

    Brooks, Susan and Spencer, T. (2014) Importance of decadal scale variability in shoreline response: examples from soft rock cliffs, East Anglian coast, UK. Journal of Coastal Conservation 18 (5), pp. 581-593. ISSN 1400-0350.

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    Rapidly eroding soft rock cliffs typically retreat at rates in excess of several metres per year, thus allowing the resolution of linkages between cliff dynamics and a range of climatic and marine forcing factors. New evidence from UK coastline of East Anglian coastline, southern North Sea shows that unprotected soft rock cliffs at three widely-spaced locations all show similar variability in retreat behaviour on decadal timescales, which we attribute to changing patterns of storminess in these decades. The 1990s were characterized by frequent months in which the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO; a well-established measure of inter-annual climatic variability in North-West Europe) was extremely positive (more positive than +3) or extremely negative (more negative than −3), while the 2000s showed few occurrences of such extreme values. Depression tracks in positive NAO phases make the East Anglian coast prone to storm surges in which raised water levels result from deeply developed low pressure systems, generally associated with westerly air streams. In negative NAO phases the region is prone to easterly airflow which results in periods of strong onshore wind. Both phases are associated with high energetics in the forcing factors. Decadal-scale variability in cliffline retreat rates has implications for the practice of coastal management and policy making and suggests that cliff system responses to global environmental change are not simply driven by secular sea level rise.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Digital shoreline analysis system, North Atlantic Oscillation, Cliff erosion, Storm surges, Nearshore sediment transport, Shoreline management
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Department of Geography
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2017 10:53
    Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 20:22


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