New map reveals UK and Ireland's sinking feeling

A coastal map created by a university has shown southern Ireland, eastern England and Wales are sinking while Scotland is rising.

The map, produced by scientists from Durham University, charts the post Ice-Age tilt of the UK and Ireland and the changes in sea level this produces.

According to the map, the sinking effect in the south could add between 10% and 33% to projected sea level rises caused by global warming over the next century.

Scientists, led by professor Ian Shennan and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, looked at the relationship of peat, sand and clay sediments that have been uplifted above sea-level or are now submerged below sea level.

The team radio-carbon dated samples to see how sediments formed and to calculate changes in sea-levels over thousands of years.

Eighty, in the UK and Ireland, were cored and examining sediments in drainage ditches and road excavations, the team found evidence of land rises and falls from the relative elevation of sediments.

These results were assessed along with previous studies of sites including the Thames, Humber, Tyne and Tees estuaries, southern England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Professor Shennan said: "The new map shows how the UK and Ireland are responding to the ice sheet compression of the earth's core and the current rate of land tilt across the UK.

"Sea levels 7,000 years ago were some 15metres below the present levels in the Fenland in eastern England, and the levels are still rising.

"The team predicts levels will continue to rise as the land falls, at a rate of 0.4 to 0.7millimetres a year.

"Sea-level rise brings in sediment which is soft and consolidates in coastal areas.

"Sea defences built on soft sediments can suffer additional subsidence due to compaction of the sediments."

To see the whole report click here.

Luke Walsh




Click a keyword to see more stories on that topic, view related news, or find more related items.


You need to be logged in to make a comment. Don't have an account? Set one up right now in seconds!

© Faversham House Group Ltd 2009. edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.