Friday, October 9, 2009

New coastland map could help strengthen sea defences

Durham University News: A new map plots the most accurate predictions yet for land uplift and subsidence in the UK. The map shows that southern Ireland and Wales, and southern and eastern England are continuing to sink, whilst Scotland is rising, at rates less than previously predicted.

The ‘Coastland Map’ produced by scientists from Durham University and published in the Journal ‘GSA Today’, charts the post Ice-Age tilt of the UK and Ireland and current relative sea-level changes. According to the map, the sinking effect in the south could add between 10 and 33 per cent to the projected sea-level rises caused by global warming over the next century. *

The projections are less than previous estimations for subsidence and could help local authorities to save money on sea and flood defences through the targeting of resources to areas where sea level rises will be greatest. The data and model could also be used in planning for the managed retreat of threatened coastal communities.

…Eighty sites were studied around the UK and Ireland coasts. By coring and examining sediments in drainage ditches and road excavations, the team found evidence of land rises and falls from the relative elevation of sediments. These results were assessed along with previous studies of sites including the Thames, Humber, Tyne and Tees estuaries, southern England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

The team used the data to test models of the earth’s response to ice load and this modelling technique can now be applied to other ice-affected countries with maritime boundaries, and can help predict the future of coastal areas around the world…

The Dorset coast, one of the stretches predicted to subside more, shot by JimChampion, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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