Most rock coast processes will be affected by climate change during this century, but our ability to distinguish the consequences will be hampered by poor understanding of the mechanisms, their relationships to environmental controls and the lack of long, reliable erosional and depositional records. The most important impact is likely to be by rising sea level, and possibly in some regions increased storminess. The greatest concern is with soft rock coasts but there will also be significant increases in the erosion of hard rock cliffs. Greater precipitation, more extreme rainfall events and stronger wave attack from rising sea level, increasing storminess and decreasing sea ice will promote cliff failures. Commensurate changes to wave refraction patterns, longshore transport paths and the availability and productivity of sediment sources with higher sea level will trigger rapid changes to beaches on rocky coasts and to the width of shore platforms. Other changes are likely to be fairly imperceptible in this century. Most weathering processes will be modified and marine organisms will migrate longitudinally and altitudinally with corresponding changes in the nature and degree of their bioerosional and bioprotectional activities.
Figures & Tables
Rocky landforms dominate large portions of the world's coast. Cliffs and shore platforms form spectacular landscapes, yet when compared to other landforms they are relatively unstudied with many contemporary controversies dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. The past decade has seen a reinvigoration of research driven by advances in technology that now enable precise measurements of erosion to the micron scale and quantification of wave energy onto and through cliff edifices to be made, as well as being able to directly date rock surfaces. In order to integrate this diverse range of research this volume's regional approach first integrates the latest data with longstanding theory and then analyses this research through the boundary conditions that exist in each area. The volume brings together the research leaders in the field; includes chapters on nearly all the major rock coasts of the world and identifies future research needs.