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Studying Coastal Flood Risk Taken To Extremes

A Level Geographers completed their fieldwork on the north Norfolk coast in June 2017, as part of their Non Examined Assessment (NEA) fieldwork studies.

Students had already planned their own individual fieldwork enquiry to be studied on the length of coastline between Sheringham and Salthouse, using two days fieldwork in June 2017 to collect primary, secondary, quantitative and qualitative data. A wide variety of fieldwork enquiries were planned, combining many different elements of both physical and human geography.

Several of these studies comprised an element, considering perceived and actual flood risks along the north Norfolk coast. However, none of us were aware of how flood risk studies would be taken to new extremes. A change in the weather comprising of winds gusting to 45 miles per hour and a half a metre storm surge recorded at Cromer tide gauge, forced us off of the beaches.

Instead of abandoning the trip, we re-grouped over coffee and re-planned the fieldwork. Whilst physical measurements of beach elevation could not be completed, the change in the weather meant that qualitative measurements of flood risk became a real possibility. A stratified programme of flood risk analysis was devised by students, implemented and followed up on the following day with beach surveys during calmer conditions.

The weather for A Level Geographers has proved uncharacteristically challenging this year. We were forced off the beach by Storm Doris in February 2017 and yet again in June 2017. This not only shows the power of the sea, but also opened up opportunities for our students to re-plan how to approach their own learning for their advantage.

We are looking forward to more characteristically calmer weather, during next year’s north Norfolk coast fieldwork.

Colin Bye FRGS

Head of Humanities, Social Sciences and PE Faculty, Fakenham Academy Norfolk and Fakenham College