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# Book release: North Sea Surge, 2nd Edition: social accounts of the 1953 floods remain relevant over 60 years later

In 1953, England suffered its deadliest natural disaster in over 350 years. The cause - a North Sea Surge that swept its way down the east coast battering communities from Northumberland to Norfolk and beyond to the Thames Estuary. Over 300 people were killed in England alone, both during the storm and in the chaotic aftermath that followed.

As one of the few sociological accounts of the impacts on flood victims, North Sea Surge has often been cited by research scientists, in government reports and the press. Now in a second edition, James Pollard updates the unforgettable story of the East Coast Floods, in North Sea Surge: The story of the East Coast Floods of 1953, 2nd Edition.

Through this update, Pollard reiterates the key themes for flood risk management and resilience to future flooding that have been the mainstay of reviews, reports and research since: the responsiveness of local and national government; the efficacy of flood warnings and national forecasting services; the tensions between private and public accountability; and the deep reserves of national good-heartedness that feature large in times of crisis. In doing so, questions pertinent to the flood risk managers of today are posed:

  • Have we genuinely learnt lessons?
  • Are we really better prepared or does serendipity still dictate the extent of harm from coastal flooding?
  • Are we thinking about personal impacts when we design national strategies for 'flood risk management' and 'flood resilience', or have we simply invented a new lexicon to avoid the challenges of making things better for communities prone to coastal flooding, including those far from the city?

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# Cambridge University selects coastal Geography case study to showcase Public Engagement with Research

Iris Möller

"The potential effects of climate change and of human modifications of the landscape on flood risk are critically important if human society is to continue to thrive in flood-prone areas" says Dr Möller of the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit and the Biogeography and Biogeomorphology Research Group at the Department of Geography.

"To encourage greater awareness of this important issue, we successfully applied to the University's Public Engagement with Research Awards scheme in 2016 to construct our augmented reality dynamic landscape sand box". The sand box has multiple uses. It is as useful as a tool to engage research stakeholders and policy makers in discussion around complex flood protection and climate adaptation issues as it is for engaging the general public during events such as the University's Science Festival, where it will next make an appearance on the 17th of March 2018.

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# Global Alliance, Global Wetlands

CCRU awarded funding for a collaborative project with University of California Berkeley and the National University of Singapore

Professor Tom Spencer and Dr Iris Möller have secured one of five Global Alliance funding awards for a project titled 'Opportunities for ecological adaptation to flood hazards in major global cities: London, Singapore and San Francisco'.

The Global Alliance was formed in 2016 as a tripartite agreement between the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Cambridge and the National University of Singapore. It aims to develop innovative research across the three institutions and via three themes: Precision Medicine, Cities and Smart Systems. It is expected that successful applicants will apply for external funding to scale projects 18 months after this seed funding has been received.

Falling under the 'Cities' theme, the CCRU project will investigate the potential for ecological adaptation and ecosystem-based flood defence management in three contrasting urban socio-ecological systems: London and the Thames Estuary, San Francisco and San Francisco Bay, and the island margins of the City State of Singapore.

It is well established that ecosystems such as tidal marshes, mangroves, dunes and oyster reefs have the natural capacity to reduce storm surges and waves, provide flood water storage and offer many additional benefits. However, coastal space usage is increasingly contested by other economic and social pressures, meaning that the design, implementation and effectiveness of ecosystem-based flood defence solutions depends on multiple and interacting social, environmental, economic and political factors.

The project will explore the drivers of coastal restoration and adaptation in each city and the policy contexts within which these are situated, investigating possible methods to identify locations suitable for adaptation interventions and criteria to measure and compare intervention 'success' and outcomes.

For further information contact: Olivia Shears (

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# Coasts: the Global Alliance

Opportunities for ecological adaptation to flood hazards in major global cities: London, Singapore and San Francisco

In recent years, ecosystem-based flood defence has been gaining currency as a more sustain­able and cost-effective risk management approach than conventional engineering of 'hard' defences, evidenced by the building of sea walls, dykes and embankments. This new collaboration between Cambridge (Tom Spencer, Iris Möller and Olivia Shears from CCRU) , UC Berkeley and the National University of Singapore (including CCRU alumnus Dan Friess), under the 'Global Alliance' programme, will investigate the potential for ecological adaptation to flood and sea level rise hazards in three contrasting urban socio-ecological systems – London and the Thames Estuary, San Francisco and San Francisco Bay, and the island city state of Singapore – building regional networks of natural coastal protection knowledge and assessing varied management practices, institutional contexts, market uptake and capacity development.

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# CCRU down under

Ruth Reef

Researchers from the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit have contributed to a successful Australian Research Council Discovery Project award led by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

This prestigious award (A$ 324k) will enable knowledge transfer and exchange between the two island nations to reduce vulnerability to sea level rise. The low elevation coastal zone contains 13% of the Australian population and is subject to intensive agriculture and urbanisation. Accelerating sea level rise is thus a major societal concern and its impacts on shorelines must be accurately determined. This Australian-UK collaboration aims to improve Australia's capacity to predict changing shoreline position with sea level rise, better understand the role of vegetation in foreshore stabilisation and identify under what conditions the shoreline might suddenly shift landwards.

Picture caption: Beach on Hinchinbrook Island, Northern Queensland, as seen from a drone, backed by an intertidal mangrove swamp (fore) and granite cliffs (back). Mangrove swamps can contribute to land elevation gain by trapping external sediments and creating organic matter, while cliffs provide little opportunity for shoreline retreat.

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# Physical Geography / Environmental Science PhD opportunities

Ali Banwell

The list of PhD topics we would like to pursue with interested students has just been launched. The link gives further details. The funding deadline is 4th January 2018, for an October 2018 start. Do get in touch with a prospective supervisor who will help with your application as soon as possible.

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# Webinar: Resources to implement nature based flood defence

On Thursday 20 July, Department Lecturer Iris Moeller will be appearing as part of a webinar on The MI-SAFE package: Resources to implement nature based flood defence. She will be discussing her work on the FAST (Foreshore Assessment Using Space Technology) project and the new MI-SAFE technology which combines existing and new earth observation data for coasts worldwide to estimate the contribution of vegetated foreshores towards coastal flood and erosion risk reduction.

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# Stormy Geomorphology: new EGU blog

James Tempest

A new post on the European Geosciences Union blog by a team including James Tempest, Dr Iris Moeller and Prof Tom Spencer explores the role that geomorphology can play in improving our understanding of flood risk through extreme storm and flood events. In addition, they show how geomorphological science is now regularly used to deliver nature-based management approaches, such as the creation of coastal wetlands. Such approaches are delivering more sustainable forms of flood and storm defence that are effective in reducing damage and destruction brought about by extreme events.

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# Scientia: Using nature to protect us from... nature

The work of Department Lecturer Dr Iris Moeller and Cambridge Coastal Research Unit on the role of salt marshes in protecting coastlines from storm surges appears in a new profile in Scientia.

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# Cambridge Coastal Research: live press conference

Flooding in La-Faute-sur-Mer, 2010

On Tuesday 25 April, 8am-9am, the research of a team including Professor of Coastal Dynamics Tom Spencer will feature in a live press conference from the European GeoSciences Union General Assembly. The press conference will present findings from the team's Paper 'Impact of storms on coastlines: preparing for the future without forgetting the past? Examples from European coastlines using a Storm Impact Database' appearing in the 'Natural hazard event analyses for risk reduction and adaptation' session of the conference. The press conference will be live streamed. Prof Spencer is one of a large group of researchers from both the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit and Climate and Environment Dynamics team presenting at the assembly.

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