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# Seminar: Tidal flat morphodynamics: Sediment sorting, self-weight consolidation and marsh distribution'


Thursday 19th July 11:00-12:00, Department of Geography Seminar Room, ALL WELCOME!

'Tidal flat morphodynamics: Sediment sorting, self-weight consolidation and marsh distribution'

Dr Zeng Zhou, Associate Professor in Coastal Geomorphology

Hohai University, Nanjing, China

Dr Zeng Zhou is a coastal geomorphologist focusing on the (bio-)physical mechanisms underlying the formation and evolution of coastal and estuarine landscapes. He is currently entering the field of coastal biomorphodynamics, with a particular focus on tidal flat systems where tidal channel networks and salt marshes are commonly present. Recently, he is leading a small group of young researchers and graduate students to explore some interesting questions using various approaches e.g. field and laboratory experiments, numerical modelling and UAV imagery. His group aims to gain fundamental insight into the biophysical effects of salt marshes (and biofilms) and their two-way interactions with coastal and estuarine morphology, so as to evaluate and predict the response of tidal flats, channels and marshes to climate change (e.g. sea level rise, increasing frequency of storms) and human activities (e.g. large-scale reclamation, nearshore fishery).

# How strong a storm destroys protective coastal marshes?

The new NERC-funded RESIST project, led by the Department's Iris Möller, will investigate resistance of coastal salt marshes to extreme storms. Salt marshes contribute to the wave buffering function of shallow water regions on the coast, thus acting as a first line of defence against storm surge waves. Their buffering role protects shorelines from the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise and stormier seas. However, little is known about how resistant these buffers are to continued battering by waves and tidal currents. The project will supply the first ever data on the resistance of marsh structures to waves, showing which soil and plant types cause greater or lesser stability. The team will be able use the data to create a "physical vulnerability index" of coastal wetlands.

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# Viennese whirl at the CCRU

The Cambridge Coastal Research Unit is once again making a strong showing at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) 8-13 April 2018, the largest geosciences meeting in Europe (the 2017 meeting featured 14,000 participants and >17,000 presentations).

Inbetween the coffees and the sachertorte, the Unit's staff, postdocs, PhD students and research associates will be delivering five presentations across biogeomorphology; ecosystem-based approaches to coastal Disaster Risk reduction; natural hazards in estuaries and coasts; and measuring, monitoring and modelling sedimentary and hydro-morphological processes.

Full details of the presentations can be found on the Unit's website.

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# New papers: Resilience increasing strategies for coasts

Elizabeth Christie

Research by Elizabeth Christie, Tom Spencer, Anna McIvor and Iris Mӧller has been published in a Special Issue of 'Coastal Engineering' on Resilience Increasing Strategies for Coasts from the EU FP7 RISC-Kit project.

This Special Issue features 21 papers on methods and case studies around Europe, including 3 papers from the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit:

Regional Coastal flood risk assessment for a tidally dominant, natural coastal setting: North Norfolk, southern North Sea. This paper describes the application and development of a coastal risk assessment framework for the North Norfolk Coast. The framework links spatial varying hazards from coastal storm events and vulnerability at the coast to allow 'hotspots' of risk to be identified.

Historical Analysis of storm events: Case studies in France, England, Portugal and Italy. This paper studies the occurrence and damage intensity of coastal storms from The Middle Ages to the 1960s using historic archives. This enables us to better understand the risks, and thus contribute to potentially reduce vulnerability to extreme storm events by showing lessons learned.

A Bayesian Network approach for coastal risk analysis and decision making. This paper develops a Bayesian Network approach to support decision making in coastal risk management and describes the application to a small town in North Norfolk. The Bayesian Network tool can be used to both predict potential damage from a given storm event, and to evaluate the effects of potential disaster risk reduction measures

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# Flood Risk and Future Cities

Congratulations to CCRU's Jamie Pollard, winner of one of 8 Future Cities Prize Fellowships 2018. Jamie aims to use satellite imagery to study evolving coastal flood risk in rapidly growing megacities. The Fellowships, awarded through a generous gift from Capital and Counties Properties Plc., are designed to support PhD students from across the University in the development of research relating to future cities.

# 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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