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Extreme storms in the spotlight at first public lecture on university research

The impact of increasingly extreme winter storms on the coastlines of Devon and Cornwall is to be explored as part of a new series of events at the University of Plymouth. 

The Public Research Lecture Series will offer the chance to hear from world-leading academics about the impact their work could have on people’s lives.

The first event is taking place on Wednesday 23 January – as part of the University’s 2019 Research Festival – and will be delivered by Professor of Coastal Geomorphology Gerd Masselink.

One of the world’s leading experts on the lasting impacts of extreme storms, he has co-authored more than 120 research papers about the causes and effects of coastal erosion and the development of methods to predict it in the future.

In his talk, he will particularly focus on the extreme storms of 2013/14, when the UK was subjected to the most energetic winter on record with the results still being felt five years on.

He will address subjects such as rises in sea levels, how increased storminess will allow waves to reach further inland, and the current and future vulnerability of the South West coastline.

He will also discuss how field measurements and computer modelling being led by scientists in Plymouth is aiming to both enhance our understanding of extreme storms and change the way we prepare for them now and in the future.

Professor Masselink, Lead of the University’s Coastal Processes Research Group, said:


“Research conducted at the University of Plymouth over the last decade has demonstrated that the impact of extreme storms on our coastlines is expected to become even more significant in the future. Coastal communities and the agencies managing them need to be aware of these threats and the steps they can take to tackle them. Our research in Devon and Cornwall is providing many of the answers to people’s questions and this is a great opportunity to share that work with a wider audience.”


The Public Research Lecture series aims to uncover the fascinating – and often surprising – stories of leading experts and their perspectives of our world through a research lens.

Future talks will focus on subjects including nanotechnology, humanitarian disasters and climate change, marine robotics and autonomous sailing, and earthquakes.

Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise at the University, said:


“Our staff are undertaking ground-breaking research on a range of fascinating and globally important topics that are having a major impact on our lives. This public lecture series provides us with an opportunity to share their discoveries with more people in the local community.”

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