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Information about coastal change, including rates of coastal erosion.
What is coastal change?
Coastal change is defined as a physical change to the shoreline through any of the following methods:
Coastal erosion – a natural process that occurs as a result of waves, tides or currents striking the shore. Sediment or rocks are washed away, typically releasing sediment into the sea and causing the coastline to retreat inland.
Coastal landslip – the downhill movement of unstable earth, clay or rock which often follows prolonged heavy rain or coastal erosion.
Permanent inundation – the flooding of coastal land on a permanent basis, which is usually caused by a tidal surge, a rise in sea level or managed realignment, and which changes the alignment of the shoreline.
Coastal accretion – the gradual extension of land by natural forces, such as the addition of sand to a beach by ocean currents, or the extension of a floodplain through the deposition of sediments by repeated flood events.
As the East Riding coastline contains 48 kilometres of soft glacial till (clay, pebbles and sand), it is particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion.
How quickly is the East Riding coastline eroding?
Although erosion rates vary significantly, recent records suggest that parts of the East Riding coastline are eroding at an average rate of up to 4 metres per year. It is important to note, however, that certain locations which are not defended can experience individual cliff losses of 20 metres or more due to natural processes.
To view a comprehensive record of historical and recent erosion rates for each section of our coast, please use the link below to access the Coastal Explorer website:
How does the council monitor coastal erosion?
Our coastal erosion monitoring programme includes aerial surveys of the whole East Riding coastline each spring and autumn, which allow us to identify the average rate of erosion. In areas where properties or other structures are at greatest risk from erosion, we also undertake more frequent ‘on the ground’ GPS monitoring, to ensure the safety of residents.
What effect will sea level rise have on erosion rates?
It is expected that rising sea levels will lead to higher rates of coastal erosion, and a higher risk of coastal flooding, along some undefended stretches of the East Riding coast. We will respond to these conditions by working with, rather than against, natural processes.
In the East Riding, sea level rise is caused by a number of factors, including the very gradual sinking of the land as a result of the last ice age. This process is called isostatic change and results in local sea level rise of around 3mm per year. The rate of local sea level rise may increase to around 8mm per year when we take into account global sea level rise driven by climate change. The key factors in global sea level rise are thermal expansion caused by the warming of the oceans, and the loss of land-based ice due to increased melting.
The Government's projections on sea level rise can be found on the following website:
Although harder to predict, it is expected that increased storminess as a result of climate change will also lead to an increase in rates of erosion, and a higher risk of coastal flooding in undefended areas.
Is my property at risk from coastal change?
To estimate the risk of coastal erosion or coastal flooding to your property or land, please visit the following websites:
We use our erosion monitoring data and projections to estimate the level of erosion risk to each property. We take into account three local factors:
Homes at risk will fall into one of three categories, as explained below:
Imminent risk - the distance between the property and the cliff edge is less than the maximum cliff loss ever recorded locally
Higher risk - the property is estimated to be at risk by 2025, rather than imminently; the distance between the property and the cliff edge exceeds the maximum cliff loss ever recorded locally
Lower risk - the property is estimated to be at risk between 2025 and 2055.
Certain properties and assets will also be at risk beyond 2055 because coastal erosion is an ongoing, natural process.
If you require further assistance, please call (01482) 395604 to speak to the senior coastal engineer.
Where can I find additional information about coastal change?
For more detailed information about our monitoring programme and for historical beach and cliff data, please visit our Coastal Explorer website:
For an overview of coastal change management, please visit the following Government websites: