Extreme sea-level change and strategic infrastructure adaptation pathways

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Civil Engineering


In the light of the measured industrial-age and predicted long-term rise in global sea levels, the UK rapidly needs ways to prioritise its future strategic coastal infrastructure adaption and planning to ensure their long-term resilience. For example, where is critical renewable infrastructure at the coast that will deliver our low carbon targets, and how resilient is it to future extreme sea-levels?

This project aims to advance novel cross-disciplinary approaches (climate science; geo-spatial analysis; engineering decision making) to examine the hazards and socio-economic impacts of recently published climate change and sea-level-rise projections (UKCP18; IPCC AR6) on long term planning of critical coastal infrastructure in the UK. It aligns with EPSRC research areas: Coastal and waterway engineering; Infrastructure and urban systems; Operational Research.


With expert engagement, determine a set of extreme sea-level scenarios for the UK for low resolution, high impact analysis.
Collect the digital datasets and integrate into a functional framework to include infrastructure networks; elevation models; future sea level scenarios; risk assessment frameworks and climate services, at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.
Downscale the spatial analysis coastal & estuarine critical infrastructure's future vulnerability and exposure to rising sea levels in case study regions (CSRs)
Estimate the direct and indirect impacts of extreme scenarios in CSRs, and establish thresholds and options for adaptation within CSRs.
Develop adaptive pathways for long-term strategic planning and investigate the scalability of the approach to national levels.

Potential applications and benefits:

Improved understanding of vulnerability, exposure and risk of UK coastal strategic infrastructure.
Improved of prioritisation of adaption responses to sea level rise.
Improved long term planning of/for coastal infrastructure.
Improved data dissemination of complex model outputs, uncertainties and adaptive planning approaches.
Improved co-operation and coordination between owners/operators, stakeholders, communities, regulatory bodies and government.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/T517860/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2025
2594931 Studentship EP/T517860/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2022 Clifford Richardson