Biological insights to help protect coastlines

 Minsmere, one of the case study locations

The first project to investigate the role of biological processes on the future evolution of the UK coastline is expected to produce valuable insights that will shape coastal protection policy. This project, called BLUE-coast, is led by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) alongside nine partner organisations.

The research will improve our ability to accurately predict regional sediment budgets on time scales of years to decades. Professor Alejandro Souza from the NOC who is leading the project said “BLUE-coast will help create a step-change in coastal management strategies.”

This will be achieved by improving our understanding of the origin, flux and characteristics of the sediment, including biological or ecological mediation, and how to build that knowledge into complex models. The project will also assess how sensitive this sediment system is to external factors such as human intervention and climate change.

Professor Souza continued “NOC has world-class expertise in coastal ocean observations and modelling. It is the only research organisation in the UK that is able to provide the field and sea-going capability to measure and model coastal sediment processes.  In combination with the world leading team on coastal erosion, coastal ecology and coastal eco-morphology, this will allow us to better forecast the future of key areas of the UK coast where policy decisions need to be made.”

BLUE-coast starts on the first of May, and is led by the NOC alongside: Birkbeck College, British Geological Survey (BGS), Cardiff University, HR Wallingford Ltd, University of St Andrews, University of Cambridge, University of Liverpool, University of Plymouth and University of Southampton. BLUE-coast has received funding from the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) and complements NOC’s long term strategic research into coastal processes.