An investigation into the physical impacts of coastal storms on the Dorset coast
Coastal storms affecting Dorset are investigated with the aid of a new metadata repository, The Dorset Coastal Storms Database. This customised database has been designed to facilitate extensive secondary data collection and provide a medium with which to analyse fundamental relationships between these data. The database presents the only county-based digital archive of coastal storm forcing and associated physical impacts. A wide range of impacts, vulnerable coastal environments and specific coastal storms have been identified and analysed for the period 1865 to present. A new intensity grading scale for coastal storm impacts has been developed in order to facilitate the identification of coastal storm types. An increase in intensity of coastal storms producing physical impacts on the Dorset coast has been identified. A thorough examination of local and regional storminess has been performed to determine baseline conditions, identify trends, and postulate future trends. A reduction in the average annual number of days with gale along the Dorset coast is highlighted, along with a shift in the number of coastal storms with physical impacts from October-December, to that of January-March. A regional field monitoring programme between 1999 and 2004 facilitated the collection of primary data during, and following, extreme events along the Dorset coast. These Rapid Response Surveys identified Studland beach and dunes, between Middle and Knoll beach, as one of the most vulnerable zones to future storm climates.