The Solent Forum

Working in partnership for the future

Climate Change

For the southeast of the UK the trend in climate is towards hotter drier summers and warmer wetter winters, with increased storminess. In the marine environment potential impacts include relative sea level rise, increased seawater temperatures, ocean acidification and changes in ocean circulation. The combination of sea level rise and the likelihood of flooding and greater coastal erosion is a real threat to both people and the existing habitats and species around the Solent.  There may also be a significant effect on the coast due to storminess and associated wave and surge actions and rivers discharging higher flows and sediment loads into the sea. Such physical changes to the coast will also significantly impact on human activity. Where we live, take part in recreation and work will all be influenced by changes in our natural environment. There are many difficult choices to be made in the future as we learn to live with different weather patterns and more severe weather events.  

National Policy and Research

The United Kingdom Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) brings together scientists, government, its agencies and NGOs to provide co-ordinated advice on climate change impacts and adaptation around our coast and in our seas. It collates and synthesise evidence on UK climate change impacts and disseminates this information to stakeholders.

Findings include:

In 2023, MCCIP published a report showing that climate change is already affecting species and habitats residing in UK seas. These effects are set to increase if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and accelerate climate change. More guidance and support are urgently needed to enable planners and other managers of our seas to implement climate-smart solutions, particularly spatial management strategies which integrate, and may be adaptive to, the effects of a changing climate.

Natural England have produced an excellent Manual on Climate Change that covers a range of coastal and marine habitats, explaning the impacts of climate change on those habitats and adaptation responses.

In 2018, the Committee on Climate Change published a guide to Managing the coast in a changing climate. A key finding is that climate change will exacerbate the already significant exposure of the English coast to flooding and erosion. The current approach to coastal management in England is unsustainable in the face of climate change.

The Climate Change Act, 2008 gives the UK a legally binding long-term framework to cut carbon emissions. It also creates a framework for building the UK's ability to adapt to climate change.  A Coastal Change Pathfinder review involved 15 authorities exploring new ways of adapting to coastal change.

Work by the Environment Agency shows that flood and coastal erosion risk in England is expected to increase due to climate change and development in areas at risk. It is not possible to prevent all flooding or coastal erosion, but there are actions that can be taken to manage these risks and reduce the impacts on communities. The Agency has published a national Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England. This strategy promotes the use of a wide range of measures to manage risk and states that risk should be managed in a co-ordinated way within catchments and along the coast and balance the needs of communities, the economy and the environment.

What is coastal transition?

A process of coastal transition can be used to support communities where it is not sustainable to construct or maintain risk management structures, now or in the future. It can help reduce the effects of coastal change on individuals, communities, the economy and the environment. What successful coastal transition looks like and involves depends very much on the circumstances and needs of those who live, work and use our coastal places, but could involve:

Local Projects - Coastal Communities Adapting to Change (CCATCH) - The Solent

The Environment Agency successfully won an EU Interreg IVa 2 seas bid ‘Coastal Communities 2150 and Beyond’ (CC2150). Hampshire County Council and five other partners working closely with the Agency, the lead organisation, developed the project. It began in February 2011 ran until December 2013. Hampshire County Council’s element of the CC2150 bid was ‘CCATCH – the Solent'.

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