AQA AS Geography Coasts: Coastal Management

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Coastal Management
The aim of coastal management is to protect homes, businesses and the environment from
erosion and flooding.
This is because flooding and erosion of the coastline can have severe social, economic and
environmental impacts.
All coastal settlements want to be defended, but the amount of money available is limited
so not everywhere can be defended. Choosing which places are defended is based on cost-
benefit analysis.
The money available is usually used to protect large settlements and important industrial
sites, rather than isolated or small settlements.
There are Four Options for Coastal Management
Hold the line Maintaining the existing coastal defences and control
structures in their present positions and increasing the
standard of protection against flooding in some areas
Advance the line Build new coastal defences further out to sea than the
existing line of defence
Do nothing Build no coastal defences at all, and deal with the
erosion and flooding as it happens
Retreat the line Build no coastal defences, but move people away from
the coast
Managed Retreat
Managed retreat involves abandoning the current line of sea defences and then developing
the exposed land in some way to reduce wave power.
Advantages Disadvantages
Newly flooded areas are effective at Loss of agricultural and residential land
absorbing wave power
Limited maintenance Interruption of communications, need for
new road and pipelines to be laid in some

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Hard Engineering Approaches
Hard engineering defences involve built structures.
Defence How it Works Cost Disadvantage
Sea wall The wall reflects Expensive to build It creates a strong
waves back out to and maintain backwash which
sea, preventing the erodes under the
erosion of the coast. wall
It also acts as a
barrier to prevent
Revetment Revetments are Expensive to build, It creates a strong
slanted structures but relatively cheap backwash which
built at the foot of to maintain erodes under
cliffs.…read more

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Creates wider well, leading to
beaches, which slow greater flooding and
the wave preventing erosion.
Earth bank Mounds of earth act Quite expensive Can be eroded
as a barrier to
prevent flooding
Breakwaters Concrete blocks or
boulders deposited
off the coast.
They force waves to
break offshore.
The waves' energy
and erosive power
are reduced before
they reach the shore.
Tidal barrier Built across river Very expensive Too expensive
They contain
floodgates that can
be raised to prevent
flooding from storm
surges.…read more

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Soft Engineering Approaches
Beach nourishment Sand and shingle are added Creates wide beaches which
to beaches from elsewhere.…read more

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Hard Engineering
The hard engineering approach has traditionally been used to deflect the power of the waves in
areas where settlements have been threatened.…read more

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Soft Engineering
Soft engineering uses beaches, dunes and saltmarshes to absorb wave and tide energy.
These natural systems for coastal defence can adjust with time, especially if they are
manipulated and maintained by people, for example by adding sand, shingle and vegetation.…read more

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Sustainable Management Strategies
1. Rising sea level means more coastal management will be needed to protect
coastal settlements and developments.
Storms also seem to be getting more frequent and more severe, increasing
the need further.
2. There's growing emphasis on the need for more sustainable management
strategies, i.e. soft engineering.
3. Deciding how to manage a coastline is now done in a more integrated way to
improve sustainability.…read more


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