Student Information
18th Jan 2012Posted in: Student Information Comments Off on Coastal Monitoring
Coastal Monitoring


The exposed coastline of southeast England is characterised by soft sedimentary geology that is vulnerable to erosion, and extensive areas of low-lying land and high coastal urbanisation that are vulnerable to flooding.

Approximately 10% of the population and billions of pounds of infrastructure are at risk from flooding within southeast England, within a vulnerable area that exceeds 480km2. Annual damages averted by maintaining present levels of coastal protection and sea defence are estimated at £203m per year, whilst capital project investment on defences within the region exceeds an average of £30 million per year and annual maintenance costs exceed £4.3m.

Most sea defence and coastal protection schemes are developed around dynamic elements, such as beach recharge or recycling, often in conjunction with beach control structures. The departure from hard engineering presents a complex risk management scenario that requires high quality information to support effective management; it relies heavily on an understanding of coastal processes at work and the effects that these processes have on shoreline evolution.

Long-term local coastal monitoring programmes as operated by Canterbury City Council, Shepway District Council, New Forest District Council and Adur and Worthing Borough Council, have demonstrated considerable cost-savings, allowing greater confidence in efficient design of coastal works.

Strategic Regional Coastal Monitoring Project

The three Coastal Groups in the southeast of England funded an initial study into the benefits of a regional and consistent approach to coastal monitoring based upon best practice from individual members. As a result of this study, a detailed proposal for monitoring the coastline was drawn up. These detailed proposals were accepted by DEFRA who agreed to grant-aid the project initially for a period of 5 years.  The project is has been managed in Phases and in just entering its 3rd Phase 10-15 years (Spring 2012). 

Due to the success of this project, it has since gone national and England’s entire coastline is covered by the Strategic Regional Coastal Monitoring Project.  The South East Coastal Group works with the monitoring teams within its area, between Isle of Grain to Selsey Bill. 

  • The principle monitoring programme included within the five year phase includes:
  • Baseline topographic surveys of the whole region
  • Baseline hydrographic surveys of the whole region,
  • GPS control network
  • Annual 1:5000 aerial surveys and photogrammetric profiling
  • Production of digital orthophotos in years one and five
  • LIDAR surveys of cliffed, estuarine and inaccessible beach coastlines
  • Regular (annual or biannual) beach profile surveys
  • Spot height surveys and digital terrain models at beach management plan sites
  • Post storm surveys at selected sites
  • Annual bathymetric profile surveys at selected hold the line sites
  • Low level aerial surveys at selected sites
  • Met-office offshore hindcast wave data at 15 sites and wave transformation of offshore time-series to 35 nearshore sites
  • Wave time series of Hs and Tz from 8 existing and new nearshore wave recorders
  • Tidal time series from 12 local tide gauges and five “class A” stations
The programme is unique within the UK, involving cooperation between all 31 Maritime Local Authorities and the Environment Agency. This project was funded by: DEFRA South East Coastal Group;; SCOPAC; Western Solent and Southampton Water SMP Group, Eastern Solent SMP Group and the Environment Agency. The ongoing southeast strategic regional coastal monitoring programme is grant aided by DEFRA.
Useful Links
Channel Coast Observatory – All the Strategic Monitoring Data is stored and is freely avaliable
Strategic Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme Information Page

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