A method for modelling coastal erosion risk: the example of Scotland

Fitton, J. M., Hansom, J. D. and Rennie, A. F. (2018) A method for modelling coastal erosion risk: the example of Scotland. Natural Hazards, 91(3), pp. 931-961. (doi: 10.1007/s11069-017-3164-0)

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It is thought that 70% of beaches worldwide are experiencing erosion (Bird in Coastline changes: a global review, Wiley, Hoboken, 1985), and as global sea levels are rising and expected to accelerate, the management of coastal erosion is now a shared global issue. This paper aims to demonstrate a method to robustly model both the incidence of the coastal erosion hazard, the vulnerability of the population, and the exposure of coastal assets to determine coastal erosion risk, using Scotland as a case study. In Scotland, the 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment for Scotland highlights the threat posed by coastal erosion to coastal assets and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires an Adaptation Programme to address the risks posed by climate change. Internationally, an understanding and adaption to coastal hazards is imperative to people, infrastructure and economies, with Scotland being no exception. This paper uses a Coastal Erosion Susceptibility Model (CESM) (Fitton et al. in Ocean Coast Manag 132:80–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2016.08.018 , 2016) to establish the exposure to coastal erosion of residential dwellings, roads, and rail track in Scotland. In parallel, the vulnerability of the population to coastal erosion, using a suite of indicators and Experian Mosaic Scotland geodemographic classification, is also presented. The combined exposure and vulnerability data are then used to determine coastal erosion risk in Scotland. This paper identifies that 3310 dwellings (a value of £524 m) are exposed to erosion, and the Coastal Erosion Vulnerability Index (CEVI) identifies 1273 of these are also considered to be highly vulnerable to coastal erosion, i.e. at high risk. Additionally, the CESM classified 179 km (£1.2 bn worth) of road and 13 km of rail track (£93 m to £2 bn worth) to be exposed. Identifying locations and assets that are exposed and at risk from coastal erosion is crucial for effective management and enables proactive, rather that reactive, decisions to be made at the coast. Natural hazards and climate change are set to impact most on the vulnerable in society. It is therefore imperative that we begin to plan, manage, and support both people and the environment in a manner which is socially just and sustainable. We encourage a detailed vulnerability analysis, such as the CEVI demonstrated here for Scotland, to be included within future coastal erosion risk research. This approach would support a more sustainable and long-term approach to coastal management decisions.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fitton, Mr James and Hansom, Dr James
Authors: Fitton, J. M., Hansom, J. D., and Rennie, A. F.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Natural Hazards
ISSN (Online):1573-0840
Published Online:01 February 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature
First Published:First published in Natural Hazards 9193):931-961
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
584862EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant 2011-2015Mary Beth KneafseyEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J500434/1VPO VICE PRINCIPAL RESEARCH & ENTERPRISE