The impact of coastal erosion and communicating science issues using art

Thursday 14th October 2021 3:00PM – 4:00PM
Location/Venue: Parish Church Sidmouth EX10 8LG

Scott Gudrich: Coastal erosion & ABR (Arts-based research): Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs at East Beach and Pennington Point are among areas that new research by Plymouth University on coastal change has predicted will see more erosion than expected while other areas seem to be eroding more slowly than previously thought.

But what causes coastal erosion and is there anything we can do about it? While the current period of rapid cliff recession and low beach levels is broadly coincident with construction of the offshore breakwaters and rock groynes on Sidmouth beach, comparable historic pre-groynes periods of low beach and rapid cliff loss suggest that the cause of cliff recession seen in recent years is likely a function of low beach levels (due to persistent South Westerly storms), particularly wet weather since 2000, erosion along the more vulnerable bedrock joints, erosion of a greater thickness of weak sediments capping the cliffs at Pennington Point, and, in the early 1990s at least, erosion of a tunnel excavated along the base of the cliffs. Over the longer term, erosion rates are expected to return to the lower historic rate but given the large uncertainties over the geology as well as future storms and climate conditions it is very difficult to predict when this might be. 

Arts-based research encompasses a range of research approaches and strategies that utilise one or more of the arts in investigation. Such approaches have evolved from understandings that life and experiences of the world are multifaceted, and that art offers ways of knowing the world that involve sensory perceptions and emotion as well as intellectual responses. ABR is a relatively new approach to be considered in environmental and sustainability sciences. It’s more widely used in social sciences and psychology. 

Background: Scott holds a BSc in Environmental and Sustainability Studies as well as an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection, with my thesis focussing on the carbon storage capacity of UK salt marshes and how it may be affected by future sea level rise. My research interest is in coastal ecosystems and coastal management, especially human-nature interactions and participatory methods in stakeholder engagement, as well as ABR (arts-based research). I am a former professional musician and am still active making “Music for the Planet” with my band The Lürxx. I also hold a MA in Classics and am passionate about Latin and Ancient History as well as about nature conservation and science communication. I founded the Plover Rovers in 2020 while being on furlough from my job as a marine biologist to combine my passion for science communication and outreach with my love for the coast and hiking. We are 100% volunteer-run and open to everyone who loves the our seas and coasts. Currently, we are around 50 active volunteers all across England.

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