Coastal ecosystems play important roles in hazard regulation (through wave energy dissipation); climate regulation (through carbon sequestration); and disaster risk reduction.

Research conducted in this area i includes providing validation / calibration services for remote sensing outputs, and working alongside earth observation specialists to develop sensors, algorithms, and applications for the coastal zone.


Ben Evans

Ben’s research focuses on the coastal zone, particularly the elucidation of biophysical processes within salt marsh ecosystems and how understanding of these can be used to improve


My research is exploiting the explosion in publically available Big Data and remote sensing pertaining to shoreline change and the environmental factors driving these dynamics

Tom Spencer

Tom Spencer is Professor of Coastal Dynamics and Director of Research, Department of Geography. He is Director of the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU) which focusses on the role coastal

Recent Publications

Harmonising topographic & remotely sensed datasets, a reference dataset for shoreline and beach change analysis
There is value in harmonising coastal field-based topographic and remotely sensed datasets at local scales. Firstly, for the UK coast of North Norfolk, using open access UK Environment Agency datasets, shorelines are extracted from vertical aerial photography and validated against LiDaR (Light Detection and Ranging) and coastal topography surveys. Secondly, a standard methodology is provided for quantifying sediment volume change from spatially continuous LiDaR elevation datasets. As coastal systems are monitored at greater spatial resolution and temporal frequency there is an unprecedented opportunity to determine how and why coastal systems have changed in the past, with a view to informing future forecasting. Pollard (2019) Scientific Data

Dynamics of salt marsh margins are related to their three-dimensional functional form
Salt marsh margins represent the transition from an area too low in the tidal frame for vegetation to develop to an area high enough to be perennially vegetated. Analysis of UK Environment Agency annual vertical aerial photography between the Humber Estuary and the Thames Estuary, UK east caost shows that these margins can be statistically separated into three classes – ‘ramped’, ‘cliffed’ and ‘ridge-runnel’. Contrasting morphodynamic behaviours are associated with each margin type, providing a robust quantitative basis for a rapid evaluation of likely system dynamism that may be useful to conservation practitioners or site managers. Evans (2019) Earth Surface Processes and Landforms