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Storminess and environmentally sensitive atlantic coastal areas of the European Union

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Effects of storminess on European Atlantic coastal areas

In order to assess the impact of climate changes and other intense environmental incidents like storms on natural resources and agriculture, the current project has undertaken an extensive geological study of storminess over the last 2000 years. The study pertains to the European Atlantic coastal areas and its outcome is expected to have immediate implications on environmental management and safety.

Climate Change and Environment

Geological work along the European Atlantic coastline, from Portugal and Azores to Northern Ireland and the north of France, has produced a number of interesting results. Along the Atlantic coastline of Scotland two localised episodes of sand blow occurred early in the period, followed by a continuous episode lasting from around 900 AD to 1800 AD. The storms involved West to North-West winds, while a reduction in storminess across the whole area occurred after 1800 AD. On the North-West coastline of France evidence exists only of storms occurring during the Holocene period. Evidence of storm induced wash-over events between 1270 and 410 BC exists in Southern Portugal. Historical and instrumental records of storminess in Scotland indicate the existence of a correlation between storm episodes and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. The data for Portugal show that NAO variations can be a proxy for storminess. The relationship though is a complicated one and the effect of the movement of the land surface has to be also considered. To view the related result click here. The response of individual areas to storms varies depending on a number of factors. The resilience of a coastal area to the effects of storms is extremely site specific but coastal zone management can be greatly facilitated with the use of a database created by the current project. The Comprehensive Database on Coastal Storms (CODACS) contains a considerable amount of information on storms from 1500 AD and across the entire Atlantic coastline. To view the related result click here The project has also performed a detailed analysis of the impact storms have on environmentally sensitive Atlantic regions. In Scotland for example it was found that during the last 2000 years, dune systems, i.e. mounds of sand formed by the storm gales, have moved inland. The seaward margin of the dune areas has however responded in a complex way. The analysis also shows that extreme events like storms are capable of considerable transport and erosion of sediment. To view the details of the analysis click here Geological work along with historical and instrumental records of storms has provided a complete picture of storminess over the last 2000 years along the European Atlantic coastline. The studies have revealed a number of important aspects and factors that contribute over time to coastal zone formation.

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