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CCRU logoCambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU)

Providing highest quality scientific research to underpin sustainable coastal management

Welcome to the CCRU

The Unit's brief is to:

  • Provide scientifically-informed input for the better management of shorelines and their associated ecosystems.
  • Facilitate and promote multi-diciplinary research into all aspects of shallow water marine science by bringing together natural and social scientists in Cambridge University and other governmental and non-governmental research institutions.
  • Inform coastal management and decision-making within governmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations in the UK and overseas.

Research projects

A variety of research projects on coastal topics are being undertaken by the CCRU.

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PhD projects

The Unit has an active group of PhD students, undertaking PhD study at the Department of Geography.

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Living on a coral atoll: What does the future hold?

21st January, 2021


Sea-level coral atolls, and their populations, are seen as being high vulnerable to global environmental change. But this debate has largely been framed around the single impact of sea level rise and island submergence.

Now an international team, including the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit's Tom Spencer, has analysed the cumulative risk from multiple drivers (sea‐level rise; changes in rainfall, ocean–atmosphere oscillations and tropical cyclone intensity; ocean warming and acidification) to five Habitability Pillars: Land, Freshwater supply, Food supply, Settlements and infrastructure, and Economic activities.

Risks will be highest on Western Pacific atolls which will experience increased island destabilisation together with a high threat to freshwater, and decreased land‐based and marine food supply. But at all locations, risk will increase even under a low emission scenario by the mid‐century, requiring urgent and ambitious adaptation efforts.

Environment Agency research overview

12th June, 2020


The Environment Agency (EA) and DEFRA fund and deliver applied flood and coastal erosion risk management research for all risk management authorities in England and Wales. They also work directly with Universities to provide end-user input to their research projects.

Over recent years the EA have had input to a number of Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU) projects (CBESS, FAST, RISC-KIT), recognising that fundamental research into coastal disaster risk reduction from natural coastal protection is of vital importance.

This latest EA/DEFRA research overview, records the continuation of this collaboration, highlighting the BLUEcoast (item 13.) and CoastWEB (17.) projects, where CCRU is a partner, and particularly RESIST (18.), where CCRU provides project leadership.

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