Regional Coastal Monitoring Programmes
The futurecoast project was commissioned by Defra in 2002 to support the Shoreline Management Review process. It collated and assessed available knowledge on past change at different scales, and described the way in which our coastline might be expected to evolve in the coming decades. The project was originally distributed on CD but over time access to information has declined. Much of the knowledge and assessment remains relevant so the Defra/EA/WG Research and Development programme has funded this new route to the futurecoast datasets making them readily useable for years to come.
All the essential information (GIS layers and associated >3,000 pages of text) have been converted into an ArcGIS and a QGIS project that can now be downloaded. Some background layers could not be included due to licence restrictions, but substitutes are freely available for most (suggestions current in 2018 can be found at the end of this page). The futurecoast text can be directly accessed through the enclosed html-file and through info and hyperlink tools within the relevant GIS environment.
The oblique aerial photography provided through the SnapMap viewer has not been part of the conversion.
What does Futurecoast provide?
Futurecoast does not provide the definitive prediction of future coastal evolution, which is dependent upon the implementation and sustainability of the coastal management policies. It does, however, provide a baseline prediction and associated 'toolbox' of supporting information, which can be used by coastal managers.
The key outputs from this research are:
- Improved understanding of coastal behaviour;
- Assessment of future behaviour for two scenarios, unconstrained (i.e. assuming no defences or management practices) and managed (i.e. assuming present management practices continue indefinitely);
- A 'toolbox' of supporting information and data that can be used in future assessments of shoreline behaviour – this includes (1) background thematic studies produced for this project and (2) additional data sets and information generated.
Where is this information located?
The key conclusions from the project are presented in a series of Shoreline Behaviour Statements. These statements describe both the current understanding of coastal behaviour and the predictions of future coastal evolution at both the large-scale and local-scale.
In addition to these statements are a series of thematic reports, which were produced to assist in the development of the Shoreline Behaviour Statements. These reports are accompanied by mapped data. These have been provided as useful background information, which can be used for other research projects.
There are also a number of data sets, which have been generated as part of this research and which again have been provided for further use and development. This information has also been provided as mapped data or is linked to the maps.
|Data and supporting information:||
Executive summary: Provides a brief overview of the project and its key outputs.
Introduction and background: This text includes a summary of the project scope, together with a brief overview of the background, objectives and approach to the study.
Methodology: This report outlines the methodological concepts adopted for this research project and discusses the application of these to produce the assessments of shoreline behaviour.
Futurecoast CD-ROM User Guide: (This guide). This explains what the Futurecoast project delivers and how this information can be accessed using the interactive CD-ROM. The main functions of the CD-ROM are outlined. There is also a section on the use and application of the Futurecoast output in future projects.
Data and supporting information
Cliff behaviour assessment: For this project, an assessment of the nature of coastal cliff behaviour has been undertaken and the approach to this classification is outlined. The report contains the results for all areas, grouped to be compatible with individual Shoreline Behaviour Statements.
Shoreline movement assessment: This report outlines the methodology adopted for assessing shoreline movement from current (1:10,000 scale) and historic (1:10,560 scale) Ordnance Survey mapping. The information was digitised from maps provided under licence to Halcrow by Landmark. For each profile location, graphs have been produced to illustrate both changes in the position of Mean Low Water, Mean High Water, back of beach and cliff top, and changes in backshore and foreshore width. An assessment of the potential 'life' of the backshore and foreshore (i.e. the estimated time until this zone disappears, based on historical data) has also been undertaken and the results are presented here.
Nearshore wave analysis (including climate change impacts): This report explains how offshore wave data, provided by the Met Office, has been transformed inshore to a number of locations and provides the results of this baseline analysis for each inshore point as a frequency distribution table.
Further analysis has been undertaken to assess the possible impacts of a number of climate change scenarios on shoreline energy conditions, and thus sediment transport potential. The report explains how this has been undertaken and presents a comparison of the potential impacts of 10 climate change scenarios (developed from a review of published climate change scenarios), defined against the present baseline at each inshore wave point.
Uncertainty assessment: The methodology developed for the uncertainty assessment used in this research is outlined. This assessment has been carried out for each area reported upon within the Local-scale Shoreline Response statements and a database of the attributed confidence levels compiled. This database contains the results for all areas, grouped according to Shoreline Behaviour Statement.
Coastal geomorphology reference manual: This document has been prepared as a brief reference guide for use in association with this project and to assist coastal engineers and planners in gaining an improved understanding of the general principles of coastal geomorphology and of the key behaviour characteristics of specific coastal landforms. For each geomorphic landform its formation, behaviour and sensitivity are described.
Supplementary bibliography: This contains the supplementary references used in undertaking assessments and compiling the statements. The references are grouped according to the relevant Shoreline Behaviour Statement. It should be noted that this is not a definitive bibliography but one that supplements those texts already referenced by the first generation Shoreline Management Plans.
Glossary: A brief explanation of the technical words and terms used throughout the project text.
Macro-review of Holocene coastal change: This report has been produced as background information and provides an overview of the drivers and causes of coastal change during the Holocene. The key scales of coastal change are discussed and a timeline of coastal and environmental change over the last 10,000 years provided. This is a macro-scale review and therefore only discusses change at a national level of detail, but more information is provided at a more local level in the Past Evolution section of the Shoreline Behaviour Statements (see Report Library 4).
Regional review reports: A brief summary of the approach adopted is provided, together with an outline of the classification used to define and map foreshore and backshore geomorphology. The main geological characteristics of the coastline are discussed in three regional reports (covering East, South and West coasts).
A brief summary of the approach to assessing the offshore zone has been provided. Reports and additional data held by the British Geological Survey have been assessed and a report produced for ten offshore regions, which summarise historical development, bathymetry and physical regime, sea bed sediments and offshore sediment transport.
Macro-review report: This report provides a large-scale overview of the hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes around the coast of England and Wales for both offshore and onshore regions. It includes discussion of bathymetry, tides, waves, surges, non-tidal currents and sediment transport. This has been used in developing statements for the coastal behavioural systems.
Regional review reports: Three regional reports have been produced for the East, South and West coasts. Each report includes: an overview of processes, which summaries for each coastline information on tides, waves and storm surges; a review of offshore (>10m depth) processes, which includes broad scale details on both bedload and suspended sediment transport; and a review of the nearshore (<10m depth), which includes local-scale information about: shoreline characteristics and internal constraints, external forcing, and nearshore sediment transport.
An outline to the assessment of estuaries and the classification used in this research has been produced. Results of the classification scheme are also provided.
Three regional reports, for the East, South and West coasts, have also been produced to assess the main estuaries around the coastline of England and Wales. Each report provides a summary of the main characteristics for each shoreline and also an assessment of individual estuaries. Each estuary has been assigned a characteristic type (according the classification developed for this project) and the discussion addresses the general estuary characteristics and also an assessment of the role of the estuary as a sink or source of sediment and its interactions with the adjacent shoreline.
Review of climate change
This report includes a review of key climate change research applicable to the coastline of England and Wales. From this, regional coastal climate change scenarios have been proposed, considering natural variability, sea level rise, storm surges, wave climate and precipitation.
A generic assessment of the sensitivity of different landforms to climate change and its impact upon future behaviour has also been considered in this report.
Interpretative reports - Shoreline Behaviour Statements
Coastal Behaviour System:
These sections describe the broad characteristics of the coastal system(s) that presently exist, identifying the large-scale interactions and drivers of change over the longer-term that have been influential upon the evolutionary behaviour of the shoreline presented in this statement. Generally these cover a much larger area than the specific length of coast covered by the Shoreline Behaviour Statement, and so provide the reader with an understanding of the wider influences that are acting upon this area. Although this is important when considering management of the shoreline covered by the Shoreline Behaviour Statement, it does not necessarily follow that the whole Coastal Behaviour System needs to be managed as a single entity.
Assessment of Shoreline Behaviour:
Past Evolution: summarises the shoreline evolution over the centuries /millennia timescale, i.e. the origins of the shoreline that exists today. For many areas, especially those which exhibit the greatest rates of change, data exists in the published literature derived from observations and measurements made before the first reliable large-scale Ordnance Survey maps in the mid-19th century. The British Geological Survey library facilities in Keyworth have been used to trace some of these early records for use in this project, and these has been used in conjunction with reviews of more recent studies. The regional project workshops have also been a key source of information for identifying long-term evolution and in highlighting additional data sources.
Controls and Linkages: identifies the key parameters influencing shoreline evolution over the century timescale, including geological and physical controls, sediment transport linkages and human intervention. It is these controls and linkages that are the main parameters for defining shoreline behaviour units (see methodology report) and therefore shoreline response over the next century.
Future Unconstrained Shoreline Behaviour: identifies both large-scale evolution and assesses the influences of this upon the different geomorphological features that are present along the shoreline. This prediction of future evolutionary trends is based upon the premise that all shoreline defences and management practices were removed or ceased immediately. These sections of the Shoreline Behaviour Statements provide the basic conceptual model for unconstrained shoreline evolution over the next century, and draws upon the knowledge of past evolution and the understanding of the controls and linkages, together with information on the local geomorphological character of the area, to identify large-scale realignment tendencies and the response of different elements of the coast to these.
Uncertainty: an indication of the main uncertainties associated with understanding of coastal behaviour. This includes comment on any implications arising from future climate change scenarios, other than a continuation of natural variability (this being the assumption upon which the primary assessments of shoreline evolution are all based).
Local-scale Shoreline Response Statements:
Assessment of Characteristics and Behaviour: identification of the geomorphological elements, present management practices, historic trends and wider scale interactions (i.e. influence of and influence on this section of shoreline).
Assessment of Future Geomorphic Evolution: predictions of potential future shoreline evolution over the next century assuming (a) all defence structures were removed and other coastal defence management interventions were to cease, and (b) all present management practices were to continue. These predictions are derived from the larger-scale conceptual evolution presented in the 'Future Unconstrained Shoreline Behaviour' sections of the Shoreline Behaviour Statements. As such the conclusions reflect wider influences, which may not have necessarily been apparent from considering this length of shoreline in isolation.
Futurecoast on CD-ROM contained a number of background layers that could not be included under Open Government Licensing; however, most of these are available now for free from other sources with some examples given at the end of this section (these links are not maintained and may not work in the future).
Coastal Behaviour Systems, Shoreline Behaviour Statements and Local-scale Shoreline Response Statements: These limits identify the area covered by an individual statement.
Controls and linkages: The key parameters influencing shoreline evolution over the long-term i.e. geological and physical controls and the nearshore potential sediment pathways have been identified. Circles on the maps indicate the key controls, whilst arrows indicate potential sediment sources, sinks and pathways, but are not indicative of magnitude because quantification has not been undertaken as part of this study.
Offshore sediment movement: A broad overview of regional offshore sediment transport (bedload and suspended load) has been mapped from information drawn from a variety of sources including sea bed sediment maps and studies of wide-scale processes. Bedload transport is largely derived from actual observational data, such as bedforms, and as such can be considered to be representative of actual movements. Similar information rarely exists for finer material and suspended load is, therefore, necessarily derived from hydrodynamic studies, with net transport being considered to correspond to net water movements, i.e. residual currents. As such, suspended load must be regarded as potential, rather than actual, movement.
Inshore wave data: Using offshore wave data transformed inshore, wave roses have been produced for 68 inshore locations, which show height versus direction. This is provided as linked information accessible via the locations identified on the maps.
Additional data sources: Wave roses for coastal monitoring buoys are available through the CCO reports section (http://coastalmonitoring.org/reports/); wave roses based on wave hindcast data are available from the ABPmer Seastates web site https://www.seastates.net/explore-data/.
Nearshore sediment transport potential: No additional sediment transport modelling was undertaken, but past studies were reviewed to obtain information on both nearshore and offshore sediment transport directions. This information has been presented in summarised form on these maps. It should be noted that due to the differences in the methods used to derive these data sets, there exists variation in the data resolution and length of data sets.
Backshore and foreshore geomorphology: The backshore of the coastline has been classified and mapped by its fundamental geomorphic form, which has been identified from a number of sources including: Ordnance Survey maps, BGS geological maps, the Futurecoast aerial video, SMP reports and other documents. Using these data sources the following backshore geomorphological classifications have been defined:
- Cliffs: these were identified from the 1:25,000 scale OS maps, where they are shown as a characteristic ornament.
- Gentle slopes: these have been identified by the absence of any cliff or steep slope ornament and the occurrence of coast parallel topographic contours on OS maps. They occur where wave action is too limited to cause scarping and cliff formation, e.g. behind some coastal barriers, or where the underlying geology is very resistant and the slope represents the underlying structural dip.
- Steep slopes: these were identified from the OS maps, where they are shown by a characteristic ornament. Many of these slopes may represent artificially landscaped cliffs, especially those behind modern sea walls and promenades. In some places, lengths of coastal slope represent older, naturally degraded cliff lines where changes of coastal orientation over a time scale of centuries has led to the building of beach width in front of the former cliff line. On other parts of the coast, smaller cliffs with actively eroding faces have nevertheless been symbolised by the Ordnance Survey as slopes rather than cliffs.
- Beach ridges: these were identified from the 1:50,000 drift geology maps, where they are classified as 'storm gravel beach deposits' or 'beach deposits'.
- Dunes: these were identified from the OS maps, where they are shown by a characteristic ornament.
- Lowland: these were identified from both OS maps (defined as land lying below the 5m OD) and mapping of alluvium deposits.
- Lagoons: these were identified from the OS maps.
- Raised beaches: these were defined from the 1:50,000 drift geology maps, where they are classified as 'Raised Marine Deposits' or 'Raised Beach'.
A number of these elements can exist at any one location, e.g. beach ridge/ dune/ gentle slope, and a large number of combinations have been determined. These classifications have therefore been simplified for mapping purposes, although a full description is provided in the information pane.
Foreshore geomorphology: The foreshore has also been mapped in terms of predominant sediment type. High and low water marks have been used to define the intertidal beach or tidal flat. This intertidal zone has been further characterised using information derived from the 1:25,000 series OS maps to show the nature of the beach sediments and the distribution of intertidal rock platforms. The following designations have been used:
- rock platform;
- sand and shingle;
- boulders/ loose rocks;
As for the backshore geomorphology, along the cross-shore profile a number of these elements can be found and therefore a number of combinations exist, which again have been simplified for mapping purposes.
Estuary locations: This research has primarily concentrated on open coast shoreline evolution and although estuaries have been considered in terms of their influence on shoreline behaviour, predictions have not been made for most estuaries. A limit between 'open coast' and estuary has therefore been defined specifically for this project for each estuary. These relate to open coast geomorphological features and therefore do not necessary coincide with those designated in the SMPs or those defined by other studies (e.g. JNCC estuary boundaries). An upstream mapping limit has been included, simply to help visually identify the estuary location.
Hot spots: Areas where there is potential for a major change in morphological form or a breakdown of an existing morphological form. At each hotspot there is text in the information pane highlighting the reason for it being designated a hot spot.
Historical shoreline movement: From each pre-defined profile location, there is a link to graphs, which show changes in shoreline positions (Mean Low Water, Mean High Water, back of beach and cliff top, where applicable) for each OS map year, together with relative change and 'life expectancy' of the backshore and foreshore zones. This 'life expectancy' is only based upon extrapolation of historic trends and should not therefore be viewed as a 'prediction'.
The graphs also show the approximate date that defences were first erected. From the Sea Defence Survey of England and Wales (SDS), the Coast Protection Survey of England (CPSE) and the Coast Protection Survey of Wales it was identified where defences/ structures crossed a profile. The historical maps (starting from the oldest) were then used to identify when a defence first appeared. The accuracy of the date obtained is therefore limited to the map epochs. Where it was not possible to clearly identify the defence from the mapping, e.g. embankments and gabions, dates cited in the SDS or CPSE databases have been used. It should however be noted that this date might not necessarily relate to the first date the coast was defended.
Mode of foreshore change: For each profile location there is a link to a graphical representation of the mode of historic foreshore change.
Future shoreline change (unconstrained scenario): For each area covered by a Local-scale Shoreline Response statement there is a prediction of future shoreline change, assuming there is no coastal management, i.e. assuming an instantaneous, total removal of defences and no future human intervention along the entire open coast of England and Wales. This scenario is not the same as the 'do-nothing' coastal defence policy option, which assumes that defences will gradually deteriorate over time. A colour band depicts the predicted tendency and magnitude of potential change.
In terms of shoreline tendency, four possible responses have been defined:
- oscillation; or
- negligible/ no change in shoreline position.
Six bands to identify the potential magnitude of change have been defined:
- extreme (>200m change in shoreline position in 100 years);
- very high (100 to 200m change in shoreline position in 100 years);
- high (50 to 100m change in shoreline position in 100 years);
- moderate (10 to 50m change in shoreline position in 100 years);
- negligible/ no change (<10m change in shoreline position in 100 years); and
- breakdown (complete change in morphological type such as the formation of a new inlet).
Future shoreline change (present management scenario): For each area covered by a Local-scale Shoreline Response statement there is a prediction of future shoreline change, assuming present management practices continue. A band depicts the predicted tendency and magnitude of potential change.
In terms of shoreline tendency, four possible responses have been defined:
- oscillation; or
- negligible/ no change in shoreline position.
The magnitude has been assigned a band according to whether the rate is expected to be:
- greater than historic change
- less than historical change; or
- similar to historic change (as determined from the historical shoreline movement analysis).
(Where the shoreline is not predicted to change in position, an additional band of 'no change' has been assigned.)
Future foreshore change (present management scenario): For the managed scenario, an assessment has also been made of the future foreshore change. Three responses have been defined:
- foreshore narrowing;
- foreshore widening;
- no net change.
Basemapping not available (communication, topography and coastline): Please use alternative data available for example from these links:
- Various background data of the coastal strip including aerial photography, LIDAR and bathymetry http://coastalmonitoring.org/ccoresources/wms/
- OpenStreetMap https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/WMS#OSM_WMS_Servers
- Ordnance Survey Open Data https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-and-government/products/opendata.html
- UK coastline as part of Europe https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/eea-coastline-for-analysis-1/gis-data/europe-coastline-shapefile
Bathymetry: Please use alternative data available for example from this link: https://www.gebco.net/data_and_products/gebco_web_services/web_map_service/
Defended frontage: Information about structures on the coast are contained in the CCO WMS layer or as a shapefile http://coastalmonitoring.org/ccoresources/shapefiles/index.php?link=&dla=download&id=1245&cat=229/Defences_National_MU.zip
Sea bed features: No alternative datasets have been identified except for those listed under 'bathymetry'.
EA indicative tidal flood plain mapping Please use data available from this link: https://data.gov.uk/dataset/7792054a-068d-471b-8969-f53a22b0c9b2/indicative-flood-risk-areas-shapefiles
Onshore geology (solid and drift): Geology open data is available from the BGS: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/opengeoscience/
Sea bed sediment: Sea bed sediment coverage is available from the BGS http://www.bgs.ac.uk/products/offshore/DigSBS250.html and for the coastal zone this is included for many areas in the CCO WMS layer.
Tidal data: No alternative datasets have been identified.
- There are six rows without hyperlinked graphs (the links don't exist): W 350, E 145, W 339, W 388, W 464, and E 251. There's no sign of the plots on the original futurecoast CD.
- W343 and W344 share the same plot (a plot for W344 doesn't exist)
- Image25.htm, Image100.htm, Image464.htm, Image692.htm and Image693.htm are not linked to from the data, and are either duplicates of other plots, or have corrupt (zero byte) GIFs.
Please use the following acknowledgement in any publications or reports: futurecoast (DEFRA 2002, Environment Agency 2018).
The futurecoast data can be downloaded as GIS data layers and project files.
QGIS (2.18) and ArcGIS (10.2 & 10.6) project files are included within the download to access the GIS mapping using symbologies similar to those used in the original Futurecoast application. The download also includes the complete futurecoast text in html format.
These data files are distributed under the Open Government Licence:
Please use the following acknowledgement in any publications or reports: futurecoast (DEFRA 2002, Environment Agency 2018).