Coasts case studies

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  • Coasts
    • Coastal erosion (Christchurch)
      • Why cliffs are collapsing: marine processes, sub-aerial, geology, human activity.
      • What is happening: the cliffs are eroding rapidly at a rate of 1-2metres a year. Christchurch bay is a 16km stretch of open coast on the south coast of England which is exposed to waves that have a 3000 miles fetch across the Atlantic.
      • Impacts: (Social) people lose their homes, homes close to the cliff go down in value. (Economic) roads and railways near the coast are under threat, tourists may not visit because of the danger affecting the local businesses. (Environmental) cliff collapse makes the area look unattractive, habitats are being lost.
    • Managing coasts (Holderness)
      • What is happening: cliffs are eroding up to 3m a month. It is the fastest eroding coastline in Europe. 3 times faster than average. Slumping is threatening livestock. Sea defence caused the cliffs to the south to erode more as wave energy is deflected back into the sea by rock groynes so the waves have more energy down south. Over 30 villages have been lost over 6000 years.
        • Shoreline management plan has 4 management strategies: Advance the line- build new, higher and better sea defences and only protect valuable land. Hold the line- keep up and improve existing defences. Managed Retreat- allow certain areas to flood, so that some areas are protected and some areas are not. Do nothing- let nature take its course so erosion takes place but new land is built up elsewhere.
    • Sea level rise (Maldives)
      • Impacts on the Maldives: coral reefs will die. People will be forced to leave their homes and become environmental refugees. The tradition way of life will be lost. Tourism will be lost. The country may disappear.
      • What is happening: sea levels are rising and islands in the pacific ocean are already beginning to disappear. Estimates range from 30cm to 1.4m over the rest of this century.
      • What did they do: the government held an underwater cabinet meeting in October 2009 to show the world the treat they faced from global warming.
    • Coastal habitats (Keyhaven salt marshes)
      • Wildlife present: cordgrass, sea lavender, oyster catcher, ringer plover, common blue butterfly, wold spider.
      • Conservation of salt marshes: managed retreat- realising how important sea marshes are for wildlife and for flood protection, the sea in places has been allowed to break through defences and flood large areas to create marsh habitat.
        • Increasing demands for leisure and tourism space and sea level rise is affecting the salt marshes. 1996, rock amour and beach nourishment was built were used to increase the width and height of the spit in an attempt to stop breaching.
      • Why is it important: salt marshes are home to many plant and animal species. It is also a SSSI and part of the salt marsh is a natural reserve.


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