Geographical Investigations - Crowded Coasts

  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 11-04-13 21:28

Different Types of Coast

Erosional vs Depositional

Rural vs Resort

Economic Value vs Environmental Value

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Are coasts crowded?

  • OVer half of the world's population live within 40 miles of the sea
  • 6 million people live less than 1 metre above sea level
  • Coastal population densities are usually 80 people/km squared - 50% more than inland areas
  • These can rise up to 1000+ in the Nile and Ganges Deltas
  • Coastal populations are growing at a rate of FOUR TIMES the global average
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Types of Coast and Examples

Trade coasts - Southampton, Shanghai

Recreation coasts - Egypt, Florida

Residential coasts - Bangladesh, Spain

Resource coasts - Tokyo, Bangladesh

Biological coastlines - Studland sand dunes, Queensland

Geological coastlines - Lulworth cove, Hengsbury head

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Factors influencing coasts


  • Topography (shape of the coastline)
  • Presence/lack of beach
  • Geology (resistance of the rocks)
  • Relief
  • Sub-aerial processes (processes operating on the cliff face - weathering, mass movement)
  • River sediments
  • Coastal (land) ecosystems - sand dunes, mudflats, salt marshes, mangroves

Weather and Climate:

  • Rainfall and temperatures
  • Storms and surges
  • Wind strenght + direction
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Factors influencing coasts


  • Long term changes in sea level
  • Water depth
  • Tidal changes
  • Wave depth
  • Wave energy + direction
  • Coastal (marine) ecosystems - coral reefs
  • Local currents and long shore drift
  • Offshore sediments
  • Size and type of waves - destructive, constructive

Human activities: 

  • Exploitation of resources
  • Use of land for development
  • Intervention in natural ecosystems
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Coastal Ecosystems - Goods and Services

Goods are the products that can be derived directly from terrestrial and marine coastal ecosystems

Services are the benefits that people obtain from the ecosystem

Basic goods for survival:

  • fish and meat
  • building materials e.g. sand and timber
  • Source of water 
  • Oil and natural gas

Vital services for survival:

  • Flood protection and storm protection e.g. Mangroves and Reefs
  • Maintenance of biodiversity
  • Provision of wildlife habitats
  • Opportuniies for aesthetic enjoyment and recreation
  • Employment opportunities across all sectors
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Timeline of coastal development

1000              Early concentration of population encouraged by food security and transport at the coast

1300              Some coastal settlements become seats of political and economic power and are fortified attracting more people and economic activities 

1600              European colonisation of America, Asia and Australia - first settlements on coasts

1750              Industrialisation = wealth to ports

1800              Increased security of coasts encourages settlement growth and development

1850              Seaside resorts and coastal tourism takes off (introduction of railways/trains)

1930              Paid holidays from work give big boost to coastal tourism

1950              Large scale expansion of port industries e.g. steel and ship building

1970              Exploitation of offshore resources e.g. oil and natural gas

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Timeline of coastal development

1800              Growth of water-based recreation in estuaries, rising demand for 2nd homes in coastal areas

2000              Possible providers for wind and tidal power, greater leisure use but decline in UK based holidays

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Coastalisation: the movement of people to coastal areas (it is a feature of modern migration)


Physical features 

  • safe
  • long, wide, sandy beach
  • flat with some steep hills leading back from the beach
  • constructive waves

Human features:

  • shopping, residential 
  • accessability - airport, motorways, railway stationm bus routes
  • fairground
  • university
  • pier, BIC, 02 Academy, air shoes, pavillion
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  • overcrowded
  • outdated
  • dirty
  • at night - high crime, high drug/alcohol abuse levels
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Bournemouth Population Growth - reasons


  • accessability - local urban amenities are easily available and the area attracts commuters because it is less than 2 hours by train to London
  • high environmental quality - coast is an attractive environment to live in 
  • climate - Dorset's coast is the UK's second sunniest and its mild winters have few days of frost or snow - encourage elderly to live there
  • Urban expansion: Bournemouth council encourages people to renovate existing buildings, housing estates - attractive to more people, student accomodation


  • Refrains its younger population - university has expanded, attracts younger people who create a demand for vibrant nightlife around the university
  • increasing population due to migration
  • population is ageing - attracts old people - many over 50
  • 1880s - pier built to attract more people
  • many facilities for elderly people - day centres, clubs and social activities
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Bournemouth Population Growth - reasons


  • companise have been attracted to locate in Bournemouth - land is available for development - planning permission, wages are lower than in South East Egland, house prices are also lower
  • Service sector has seen increased levels of employment, particularly in banking, finance and tourism
  • biggest growth has occured in the number of financial institutions - 1999 - 14,889 people worked in banks
  • As average wages increased, more people visited Bournemouth - cheaper guest houses and hotels attracted even more people
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Growth and decline of a Mediterranean coast

What attracted people to the Spanish coasts?

  • Landscape

Long stretches of sandy beaches (4 miles)

Warm, blue Meditteranean Sea

Inland = Sierra Nevada Mountains

  • Climate

Hot summers; sunny and dry

Mild winters

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Growth and decline of a Mediterranean coast

  • Economic factors

Range of nightlife - clubs, bars, restaurants


Water sports - Banana boats, jet skis

Golf Courses

Easily accessable - airport

  • Accomodation


High density, high rise low prices appartments

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Growth and decline of a Mediterranean coast

Other info

  • water park -  for all ages 
  • sea world - appeals to families - more tourists
  • 2010 - tried to remarket itself
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Development on Greenfield sites: The Dibden Bay Pr

Economic +

  • employment opportunities - will employ over 3000 local people from the neighbourhood
  • container traffic is a huge money earner for Southampton and will increase income into the area if another port is built at Dibden Bay
  • will attract large numbers of people to the area for jobs who will spend their money in the area e.g. accommodation, shops, restaurants, leisure
  • more imports and exports of goods
  • would create one of the largest dock areas in Europe
  • ABP has offered to contribute to the council's road building fund
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Development on Greenfield sites: The Dibden Bay Pr

Economic -

  • may destroy the local economy by knocking perhaps £10s of thousands off house prices which are currently worth a lot of money due to the surrounding beauty and quiet 
  • unemployment is less than 1% - don't need the jobs
  • may cause Southampton port itself to go out of business when trade is reduced and imports and exports decrease - competative port
  • business exploitation
  • tourists will be deterred from visiting the surrounding area in the new forest - decrease in tourist income into the economy - knock on effect
  • mismatch between skills and vacancies
  • cost - estimated £700 million fund needed
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Development on Greenfield sites: The Dibden Bay Pr

Environmental +

  • Dibden Bay area is currently just a bog of not much environmental importance 
  • Already houses the largest oil refinery in Europe, a power station, associated chemical industries, 2 army bases along with several industrial estates on the waterfront
  • no currect useful purpose for the land
  • ABP has strategies to minimise the ports impact through developing a number on environmental projects - artifical creek, relocation of wildlife, plantation of trees
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Development on Greenfield sites: The Dibden Bay Pr

Environmental -

  • Natural England - super port would have a detrimental effect on birds such as Brent geese, oystercatchers, ringed and grey plover, curlew, lapuring and teal
  • traffic in the area will increase dramatically, road congestion and therefore pollution of the area will increase also
  • will disrupt all nature in the local area, will be oil spills
  • container traffic will slow traffic on the roads which is already congested at busy times
  • A329 would not cope with the amount of traffic - 52% forecast increase in traffic flow
  • Those avoiding congestion in places such as Salisbury will take the B3080 through the New Forest - will cause more noise, damage, congestion and danger for many residents of the area, visitors and wildlife in the New Forest
  • Dredging silt will disrupt the oyster population on all the solant oyster beds
  • 3000 lorries 24 hours a day
  • SSSI
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Development on Greenfield sites: The Dibden Bay Pr

Social +

  • local residents will get jobs and unemployment rates in the area will decrease
  • jobs of all levels of skill may be available during construction and throughout its use
  • people that live there have alternatives; can put up with it or more somewhere nicer
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Development on Greenfield sites: The Dibden Bay Pr

Social -

  • local neighbours may be disturbed by the noise of the site and the construction noise once it is being built
  • 6000 residents quality of life will be destroyed by the building of Dibden Bay port
  • would cause misery during construction, due to excessive noise and dust
  • would lead to annoyance during its final operation, especially to local sailing
  • visual polution for local residents and tourists - whole project would be seen on the landscape for many miles
  • no unemployment problem - no need for the jobs and employment opportunities
  • currently used for recreational boating - would be taken over by bigger container ships and their escorts
  • inward migration increases the pressure on schools and healthcare facilities in the area
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Environmental impacts of economic development at S

Fawley Oil Refinery - opened in 1951 and has expanded massively

  • 3000 people work there
  • handles 2000 ships yearly, handles 22 million tonnes of Crude Oil yearly
  • convinent for tankers from Europe +tankers from the rest of the world reach it via the English Channel

Salt marsh:

  • greatly reduced in size, designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI)


  • main environmental problem, can be as warm as 30 degrees C, affects the estuary ecosystem/alters food web, increase in population of hard clams caused by water temperature change (breed over 23 degrees C)

Metal pollution

  • refinery effluent is monitered, but they are still emitted
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Environmental impacts of economic development at S

Sewage and industrial discharge

  • sewage pipes discharge 300 million litres of treated sewage every day into the solent - huge amount for a relatively small area
  • as the population of the area increases, so does the sewage discharge 
  • raw sewage is treated to reduce the numbers of bacteria, but it still affects the wildlife of the area


  • even treated sewage still contains solid waste - can end up in the sea or littering beaches
  • marine litter also includes waste from ships and the rubbish that tourists leave behind on beaches
  • a survey around the solent found coal, brick, glass, old shoes, rubber gloves, sanitary towels, plastic bottles, sweet wrappers and bottle tops on the beaches
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Environmental impacts of economic development at S

Metal pollution

  • paints used to stop organisms such as barnacles attaching themselves to the underside of a boat contain a chemical called TBT, which contains a lot of tin
  • this can be used on the large container ships which use Southampton's container port
  • tin levels are above those for other uk estuaries, and much of it is trapped in sediments

Oil Spills

  • 1st OCtober 1989 - ship offloading crude oil spilt 20 tonnes into the water - spread downstream from Fawley to Calshot spit
  • beaches had to be cleaned
  • salt marsh was particularly badly affected - trying to clean up salt marsh causes even more damage - left it alone
  • 800 birds were affected
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Studland - high value ecosystem

Key Facts

  • 20,000 school visits annually
  • over 1 million visitors a year
  • 25,000 on the beach on a typical July/August day
  • 95% visit for the beach and only 5% for the dunes - conflicting interests
  • 3,500 cars per day (busy period)
  • 200 litter bins in the summer - encourage recycling
  • 12-13 tonnes of rubbish a week
  • Restritions of dog walking
  • £9 million local economy and 130 jobs
  • 260 beach hut sites and 40 huts owned by the National Trust  and let on a seasonal basis
  • huts have been present at Studland for over 100 years - become a feature of the beach
  • huts are extremely poopular and the seasonal huts are aloways fully booked and there is a five-year waiting list for the hut sites
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Studland - high value ecosystem

  • Studland dunes and beach have built up over the last 300 years through natural processes but serious erosion in recent years now threatens the infrastructure at the Knoll and Middle beaches
  • Research commissioned by the National Trust from Bournemouth University in 1996 showed that the annual rate of erosion had increased significantly
  • Forecast for beach loss over a 25 years period made in 1995, were found to have happened in one year
  • Car parking spaces at the Knoll are fast being lost to the sea with 190 spaces lost in 1998
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Studland - high value ecosystem

What are the specific threats to the ecosystem?

Tourism is a huge threat to the ecosystem in Studland sand dunes as there are over 1 million a year, causing trampling of the plants on the sand dunes and also litter which could damage their  habitat and cause a dirty environment. there are also threats from the sea such as erosion, weathering and especially flooding which could kill off parts of the ecosyem. Another threat to the area is schools groups and people on educational trips as they trample the footpaths and the dunes, causing a threat to the ecosystem. As the area gets more poopular and in the summer months, congestion could cause pollution in the area therefore acting as another threat towards the Studland sand dunes ecosystem. Results from the questionnaires also suggested that the development taking place in the area could cause damage as it is causing an influc in the number of tourists who may not respect the ecoystem. 

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Studland - high value ecosystem

Why is management needed?

Management is needed because many different groups of people visit the area for different reasons, creating conflict and so management needs to be put in place to suit all of their needs. Boat users, watersports and fmailies with young children currently use the same area for their own activities making them vulnerable to danger, so management may be put in place to appoint different areas of the beach and water for these conflicting key players. Management is also needed because the area does not make money or income, so development or management would need to take place in order for it to do so.

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Studland - high value ecosystem

What management strategies have been put in place at Studland?

The National Trust is responsible for managing Studland. There are man management techniques being carried out by the National trust, for example the distribution of bins on order to create a cleaner environment and reduce the amount of litter which could damage the high value ecoysystem. It is evident from the beach litter survey that this management strategy is successful as the only litter visable on the beach had been washed up by the sea. This suggests that those that visit Studland respect the need for it to be kept clean. Another successful management strategy is the dog tie rings available which prevent conflict and allow dog walkers to leave their dogs to get food etc. without disturbing anyone else. Dune restoration has allowed natural coastal and wildlife protection from the erosion, flooding and tramping taking place, meaning the habitats in Studland are being protected. The limited car park spaces and buildings built out of wood limit the number of visitors and make the area look nice and keep it looking more natural. This also successfully limits the amount of damage caused by tourists and visitors and not too much space can be destroyed for development.

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Studland - high value ecosystem

What further action is needed, if any?

Studland sand dunes are under threat from rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding. There is currently no hard engineering strategies in place to manage these coastal processes, perhaps because the National Trust have a policy of 'managed realignment' at Studland beach, allowing the coastal processes to continue without disrupting them in a way which may damage the ecosystem anyway; which is what hard engineering strategies would do. As nobody is specifically at risk, authorities may not allow the loan of money to invest in hard engineering such as groynes, meaning the National Trust, in charge of managing Studland, wouldn't have the money to do so efficiently.

This lack of management means the Studland coastline will continue to erode resulting in conflicts between some key players. For example, tourists and the National Trust may conflict because the tourists want the long sandy beach, whereas the National Trust do not want to keep the beach if it means damaging the ecosystem. The National Trust also conflict with the authorities and council as they want to protect and manage the area but are not given the money or opportunity to do so.Some tourists stated that 'some drastic action needs to be taken pretty soon' in order for the beach to remain a tourist spot, while a National Trust member said they they should 'let nature take its cause, even if it means the erosion and destruction of the beach'

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Coastal erosion at Barton on Sea


  • Hampshire/Dorset
  • Border
  • Littoral cell - self contained shoreline


  • 30m high cliffs
  • sandstone (top 10m) above clay (bottom 10m)- water goes straight through sandstone (porus) but not through clay (impermiable) = layer of water - hydrostatic pressure - rotational slide + slumping
  • weak geology

Rate of erosion

  • 2m a year
  • 1 1/2m with management
  • since 1971 - eroded 60m
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Coastal erosion at Barton on Sea

Sub aerial processes

  • biological weathering - plants, burrowing animals + roots

Human factors

  • building of houses/businesses etc
  • walkers - harming footpaths
  • MANAGEMENT - have built groyens at Christchurch and highcliffe which stop sediment reaching Barton on Sea as longshore drift is west to east
  • Barton on Sea is managed by 3 different councils - New Forest District council, Bournemouth Borough council etc
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Increasing risks - Rapid coastal erosion

Coastlines are eroded by:

a.) Marine processes (cliff foot)

  • abrasion, attrition, solution and hydraulic action

b.) sub-aerial processes (cliff face)

  • weathering (physical - freeze thaw, chemical and biological), slumping, mass movement, rotational slumps

Dynamic Equilibrium:

  • condition of balance that exists in the natural world
  • e.g. between the erosion and retreat of a cliff and the removal of the resulting debris from the foot of the cliff
  • any human interference with the coast and its systems will upset the natural balance e.g. constructing groynes, dredging channels, reclaiming mudflasts, constructing ppiers and harbours, clearing mudgroves
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Coastal management for the future

A sustainable approach ensures a better quality of life for everyone, noew and for generations to come

A sustainable approach requires decision makers to fully account for social, economic and environmental factors before action takes place


  • public forum/consultation meeting
  • SWOT analysis
  • conflict matrix
  • cost benefit analysis

Sustainable coastal defence/management:

  • work alongside natural systems and processes
  • small scale, bottom-up or community driven
  • cheaper and long-lasting
  • compatable with adjacent coastal areas
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Shoreline Management Plans (SMP)

  • to make the management of the coastline easier, it is diided up into sediment cells
  • 11 major cells - each self-contained in terms of management of sediment
  • divided into sub-cells and SMPs are prepared for them
  • the workings of a cell system are measured by its sediment budget
  • it inputs (deposition) outputs (erosion) = beach will grow
  • It outputs (erosion) inputs (deposition) = beach will shrink
  • Humans can disrupt the natural equilibrium with beach management 
  • AIM: to create a defence strategy that is: sustainable, compatable with adjacent areas, takes account of natural coastal processes as well as the needs of people
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Shoreline Management Plans (SMP): 4 types

Option: Do Nothing

What does it involve?

Natural retreat, safety precautions, no investment will be made

Locational example: Parts of Barton on Sea

Why has this method been chosen?

No money will save it from natural processes, beyond repair, irreversable damage


doesn't cost anything - invest money in areas of the coast that are worth protecing, doesn't disrupt envionment or areas further down the coast


land is lost, drop in land value 

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Shoreline Management Plans (SMP): 4 types

Option: Managed Retreat

What does it involve?

Allow coastline to erode/flood but monitor situation

Locational Example: Naish Holiday Park, Studland 

Why has this method been chosen?

Nothing of economic value worth protecting, no infrastructure - portable holiday homes can be moved, SSSI 


Doesn't cost, won't negatively affect environment, won't affect areas further up coast


land is lost, can be unpopular with locals 

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Shoreline Management Plans (SMP): 4 types

Option: Hold the line

What does it involve?

maintaining the existing line of defence

Locational Example: Milford on Sea, Highcliffe on Sea, Bournemouth, Boscombe

Why has this method been chosen?

land value is high - high economic value area


no land is lost, effective, popular with residents, investment in area because it's still attractive to businesses


expensive, unsustainable, ugly, negative impacts further along coast 

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Shoreline Management Plans (SMP): 4 types

Option: Advance the line

What does it involve?

building of new defences on the seaward side

Locational Example: Boscombe - surf reef

Why has this method been chosen? 

reduce impact on land - so don't overtop defences




not as effective, need hard engineering strategies at coast AS WELL

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Secondary research for rates of erosion and coasta - photographs - shoreline management plan for Christchurch Bay

Environment Agency Website - areas at risk of erosion and/or flooding

Daily echo - local newspaper - evidence of erosional events, - research house prices in local area - changes over time 

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Mr A Gibson


This set of cards synthesizes factors that affect coastal development well and gives some decent examples of how some areas have developed and been affected by natural and human processes. A thought provoking resource to give a student material to get to the highest level in longer questions requiring more depth.

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