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

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Study Area

Aberdeen beach and the Queens Links area - situated directly behind it - (to the West) are important assets for Aberdeen City, while the nearby harbour is a major contributor to the local and regional economies and a key transport link, hosting fishing and shipping industries The Kings Links golf course, beach boulevard and other local amenities add to economic importance of Aberdeen beach.

The beach is located to the east of the city centre. The beach extends 3.5km from the River Dee (and Aberdeen Harbour) in the south to the mouth of the River Don in the north and includes/has 30 timber groynes and blockwork revetments along its length. The study area can be seen in figure 1.


Figure 1: Map of Aberdeen coast with main areas of interest annotated

Drivers of climate change

The effects of climate change on coastal erosion and flooding are the focus of this case study. The main ways in which these phenomena are likely to be affected are through predicted increases in storminess (ACC 2002) and wave velocity, as well as increases in sea level which, although predicted to be of relatively small magnitude, will nevertheless increase the vulnerability of coastal areas to damage by the sea.

The case study also examines climate change factors not directly related to the sea but which are likely to have an impact on Aberdeen, such as increases in extreme precipitation events and increases in air temperature.

Information Sources:

• Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007), Fourth Assessment Report, click here to view

• UK Climate Projections Briefing Report

• UK Climate Projections Science Report: Marine & Coastal Projections

• Marine Climate Change Impacts Annual Report Card 2007–2008

• SEPA flood maps. Click here to view


Impacts of climate change

Sea defences

Sea level rise has a direct influence on flood damage both in terms of frequency of occurrence and extent (depth). Increased wave height and energy at the coast in areas of shallow water means more overtopping of defences ( Also wave forces on defences and natural systems will be greater. Combined higher water levels (and where applicable wave heights) leads to increased mobility of soft coastal features and more likelihood of switching from a stable coastline to an eroding one. This increases pressure for new defences which in turn puts further pressure on natural systems. Short, Mid, and LongTerm Impact.


Impacts to shoreline and coastal erosion defences will eventually deleteriously affect infrastructure if the coastline progresses landward. Damage from increased flooding will also negatively affect coastal transportation networks. Mid to LongTerm Impact.


Warming sea temperatures could lead to a decrease in habitat for locally important fisheries (whitefish, primarily herring and haddock), as well as an increase in invasive species (such as jellyfish) whose habitat could expand northward with a rise in temperatures. LongTerm Impact.


Warmer temperatures, increased rainfall, and other changes in climate might alter the growing season and impact agriculture in the area. LongTerm Impact.

Commercial/residential areas

With current sea level rise predictions, Footdee as well as the attraction area (amusements and with many cafes and restaurants) will become more vulnerable to flooding during storms, as it is already a low lying area and has experienced flooding in the past due to its exposed location. The economic viability of this historic fishing village as a settlement could eventually be compromised if flooding proves regular. The harbour could also be vulnerable to flooding if sea level rise continues, and if its operation is significantly affected there could be repercussions for the local economy.

Limitations for adapting to issues

One factor affecting local adaptation to climate change is a perceived lack of data/information on climate change impacts, ineffective communication and organisation between organisations potentially responsible for instituting and implementing climate change adaptation policies and programmes. For instance, considering the lack of data, it was noted by attendees that little actual data on local sea level rise exists and that most of the available evidence was anecdotal.

ICZM and institutional context

Roles of the main actors dealing with climate change and coastal management (Source: Hastings, E. (2010) The State of the East Grampian Coast. Aberdeen: Macaulay Land Use Research Institute –Now THE JAMES HUTTON INSTITUTE)

The legal situation and ownership relating to the coastal and marine environment is extremely complex and in turn affects its management. The territorial sea of the UK extends out to 12 nautical miles (nm) and within this limit, the Crown Estate own virtually all of the sea bed and approximately 55% of the foreshore (the area between MHWS7 and MLWS8 in Scotland). The remainder of the foreshore is in private ownership, including the Ministry of Defence, the Forestry Commission, Local Authorities and Harbour Authorities as well as a number of conservation bodies. The owner of land usually has the exclusive rights to that land including the use of it and how it is managed.

The East Grampian Coastal Partnership (EGCP) is a voluntary group of individuals and organisations who have an interest in the wellbeing of the local coast between Kinnaird Head, Fraserburgh and the mouth of the River North Esk, by St Cyrus.

ICZM (Source: Hastings, E. (2010) The State of the East Grampian Coast. Aberdeen: Macaulay Land Use Research Institute – Now THE JAMES HUTTON INSTITUTE).

The Scottish Coastal Forum (SCF) was set up at a national level in 1996 to deal with coastal issues in Scotland and to communicate with Government in terms of ICZM. Part of the SCF 's role is to encourage the formation of Local Coastal Partnerships and to further progress ICZM in Scotland. At present, ICZM in Scotland is not enshrined in statute and therefore a voluntary approach is taken; predominately delivered by Local Coastal Partnerships. However, the actual effectiveness of ICZM in the current situation has been questioned. It has been seen to be more theoretical and rarely transferred into practice as a successful way of managing the coast (Chaniotis and Stead, 2007). The lack of funding available to implement ICZM has also played a major role in its effectiveness.

Institutional blockages:

• Generally, all sectors are equally affected by the constraints on implementing climate change adaptation measures listed herein. Among the constraints are

• public apathy to adaptation;

• lack of funds to implement adaptation measures;

• lack of qualified/experienced personnel to formulate policy and implement effective adaptation strategies;

• lack of coordination across administrative organisations.

You can download the full Aberdeen Beach Case study here

You can download The State of the East Grampian Coast here

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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