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The IMCORE project ran from 2008 to 2011 and was funded under the EU Interreg IVB programme.

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Access or download overviews, tools, techniques and examples of visualisation tools, educational tools, legal and policy tools, future scenario techniques, etc

Practical tips for following the IMCORE approach to planning to adapt to coastal climate change 

Study Area Context

The study site for the North East region of the UK covers from the Scottish Border (St. Abbs Head) to North Yorkshire which covers approximately 120 miles (193 km) of coastline. The coast varies significantly, ranging from vast cliff faces, boulders and pebbles, to sandy beaches with dominating backdrops of vast sand dunes. This section of the UK coastline is important under many guises including farming, urban living, commercial fishing, tourism, and natural and industrial heritage.

Over many years the coast has been shaped dramatically by both coastal activities and natural processes and it incorporates a range of administrative regions (Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham, Cleveland / North Yorkshire) in which there are a broad variety of coastal sectors.

Industry is a large part of the North East coastline but the area also holds a historical past for recreation, tourism and heritage which continues to this day. Tourism is a large part of the Northumberland Coast, and along with cultural and heritage aspects, this area plays an important part in drawing interest to the North East coastline. Further south, the coastal areas possess a more industrial history in addition to tourism. The Teesmouth valley and the Durham coastline have, for many years been used as primarily an industrial base.


Drivers of climate change

In the North East of England the main drivers of climate change likely to affect the area are the thermal expansion of the seas leading to sea level rise and increased frequency and / or intensity of extreme events leading to, for example, storm surges and overtopping.

The North East Climate Change Adaptation study describes how the North East Coast is vulnerable to coastal erosion, landward migration of sand dunes and overtopping. Coastal erosion is particularly important to monitor in the area as some cliffs are relatively unstable and are showing signs of weakness due to freeze thaw action and groundwater influences. If coupled with increased pressures from coastal processes it will enhance the rate of erosion.

Climate NE, the North East Climate Change Adaptation study and Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) reports have all contributed to the evidence base to outline the drivers of climate change in the North East. All report that the North East Coastline is vulnerable to the changing coastal processes that accompany climate change. This, in addition to increased pressures from tourism and accordingly pressures from changing landscapes (infrastructure, roads etc) means that adaptation to climate change on the North East coast is essential.


Impacts of climate change in the case study area

Reports confirm that climate change is having concerning impacts on the North East coast (and throughout the UK). The North East Adaptation Study from 2008 used modelling programmes that predicted an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme events, particularly with regard to storms. According to this study there will an increase in flooding, wind-damage and heat-damage events which have been modelled until 2050. The main impacts of climate change that will affect the coastline of the North East of England are coastal erosion, sea level rise, extreme events and increases in temperature (air and sea).

The different type of landscape and geology of the North East has shaped the coastline over the years. The soft sands of the Northumberland coast make the area vulnerable to erosion but are also prone to sedimentation due to the currents and sediment movements in the region, both of which can be augmented by climate change. Other parts of the coast reveal harder rock formations such as the magnesian limestone of the Durham coast. Climate change can impact the latter type of geology through extreme cold events (freeze-thaw action) and from increased instances of flooding from ground water (due to the faults that align the cliffs). Currently slumping is a big problem in many parts augmenting the erosion of the coast.

Both summer and winter temperatures are projected to increase on the North East coast. This will create pressures on infrastructure and amenities due to increased or all-year round tourism; these changes need to be managed. Equally changes in temperatures will also create economic and social opportunities in the area. Increases in employment should run parallel to a tourism increase in addition to improved opportunities for local businesses in the area. This will be specifically important to the less affluent areas on the Durham coast.

An economics study conducted by Climate NE and Arup in 2010 reported that the most significant economic impact of climate change in the North East will be the rise in sea temperature which will affect the local fishing industries but data is not quantified for this. Sea level changes will have less of an impact whereas change in air temperature would have a highly significant impact on local biodiversity but again data for this is not yet quantified.

Due to the awareness of climate change impacts on the North East coast it is evident that adaptation to these is presently and will in the future be required.


ICZM and institutional context

In the North East of England there is no statutory ICZM in place but a lot of work has been carried out on developing strategies for climate change. At a strategic level Climate NE has carried out a number of assessments regionally to assess the current and probable impacts of climate change. The Climate Change Adaptation Study developed adaptation strategies for the North East and the work of the NE-ECN will feed into these actions to provide a coastal adaptation aspect. The Nottingham Declaration has been signed by all local authorities in the area as an assertion to their awareness of climate change and ways to implement actions for it. Local authorities will hold more responsibility to adapt to the impacts of climate change specifically to their area. However, with the current economic climate in the North East, as in the whole of the UK, funding for these projects will be less than originally anticipated. Marine planning in the UK has recently begun and will open opportunities for the advancement of adaptation actions on the coast in the North East.

This learning portal brings together the results and lessons learned from the IMCORE project. This project was funded under the Interreg IVB programme from 2008 to 2011.

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