Coastal Change

The Yorkshire coastline is dynamic, with much of the area subject to coastal change as a result of the underlying geology, the presence of the ever-pounding North Sea, and the impacts of stormy weather and flood events. 

The Holderness coast in East Yorkshire is recognised as the fastest eroding coastline in Europe, where the cliff-line is retreating by about 4 metres per year.  Annually, this releases significant quantities of material into the sea which is carried south to Spurn Point and Lincolnshire; helping to create vital ecosystems elsewhere along the North Sea coastline.

Watch our animation ‘Super Sediments’
These changes have been happening for thousands of years, but are being exacerbated by climate change.  Global sea level rise, increased severity and frequency of storms, and rising sea surface temperature mean that land-slips, erosion and flooding are more likely now than they were 100 years ago.
Watch our animation ‘Coastal Climate Change’

Local authorities and the Environment Agency manage our changing coastline through Shoreline Management Plans (SMP).  These plans set out how coastal infrastructure and natural habitats will be managed in the short, medium and long terms.  The Yorkshire coast is split into two SMP areas: The Tyne to Flamborough Head and Flamborough Head to Gibraltar Point.  To inform these plans and manage individual areas of sensitivity, partners collect regular data on the coastal environment and the changing landscape.

To explore this data and other coastal change information, please visit the North East Coastal Observatory or the Coastal Explorer.

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