Science meets art to bring sea-level rise to the country’s highest residents

Colne Rising guided walk

The National Oceanography Centre has lent its expertise to the creation of a fictitious story where rising sea levels due to climate change, and the equinox brings a massive flood to one of the highest areas of the country.

‘Colne Rising’ is a guided walk led by writer and poet Sarah Hymas around the valley and hills of Marsden in West Yorkshire - a town 251 meters above sea level and nearly 50 miles from the nearest coast.

NOC’s Dr Jenny Brown worked with Sarah on the finer technical details of the story. “This walk does a great job of bringing to life the potential impacts of climate change. Even if you live inland, there are many ways that coastal flood events could affect you, for example, the story talks about disruptions to communication and transport networks or energy supplies, something that would affect everyone. We’re always looking for new ways to bring our science to life and so this was a great opportunity.”

Author Sarah Hymas said, “It was brilliant to have Jenny on board. Not only for embracing the fictional scenario I was proposing, but also to explore the water movement, consequences of such a flood and effect on the landscape. She has given authenticity and insight to the piece, making it so much more compelling. ”

Dr Brown is currently involved in a number of projects looking at the impact of rising sea levels as a result of climate change:

ARCoES (Adaptation and Resilience of Coastal Energy Supply) is a project that tackles the challenges facing the future security of the UK’s coastal energy supply. It’s developing a decision-support tool to help assess future flood and erosion risk. This tool was used to visualise the surge water pathways of a fictional storm to assist Sarah’s narration.

The RISES-AM (Responses to coastal climate change: Innovative Strategies for high End Scenarios - Adaptation and Mitigation-) project is investigating coastal impacts of climate change for emissions scenarios where global average warming is projected to exceed 2°C with respect to pre-industrial temperatures. Sarah’s walk is helping to raise awareness of sea-level rise and changing extremes in sea levels, storminess and waves, all of which may produce coastal flooding in a warmer future climate.

Colne Rising – Saturday 24 October at 3.30pm, Sunday 25 October at 2.30pm, Marsden (Suitable for ages 12+). Places on the walk are limited and must be booked in advance via The walk is around 3miles on footpaths and hills, and ends at the New Inn for a warming drink (included in the price). The story and map will be available to download from the website after the walk.

Bear Hunting and Other Ways to Walk is devised and managed by We Do and supported by Kirklees Council and Arts Council England.