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The University of Sussex

 14 December 2001 

Coastal erosion conference makes waves in Brighton

Researchers from all over Europe will meet in Brighton next week to discuss the results of a three-year study into coastal erosion.

More than 60 delegates are expected for the conference on 17-18 December, which is being organised by the University of Sussex in association with the European Shore Platform Erosion Dynamics (ESPED) project.

"One thing we've found is that the erosion of the shore platforms near the cliff base is surprisingly high, and that this may be due to climate change," says Dr Rendel Williams, Reader in Physical Geography in CPES and overall co-ordinator of the ESPED project.

The exceptionally wet winter last year resulted in a spectacular increase in the number of cliff falls on the Sussex coast, demonstrating the importance of the link between climate and coastal erosion.

"Coastal defence engineers have tended to assume that rocky shore platforms don't change very much," says Dr Yolanda Foote, Research Fellow at the University of Sussex. "But by understanding the ways in which they do actually change and the processes involved, we can try to understand cliff erosion better and develop models of the possible impact of climate change."

The research has three main aims: to monitor cliff and platform erosion, to understand the processes involved, and to try to predict the effects of possible changes in sea level and the effectiveness of coastal defence strategies.

"Some of the key questions we'll be addressing are why cliffs are retreating faster since the 1960s, and whether this is to do with climate change," says Dr Foote. "Another question is why cliffs on the French coastline seem to be retreating more slowly those in the UK."

The project, funded by the European Union's Marine Science and Technology Programme, has brought together researchers from the universities of Sussex, Nantes, Lisbon, the Balearics Isles and Karlstad in Sweden. The conference is being held at The Old Ship Hotel in Brighton.

 Notes for editors 

For further information, please contact Peter Simmons or Jacqui Bealing, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email or

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