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Scientists launch project to analyse storms

A group of scientists has launched a project to fully analyse the effect of the recent devastating winter storms on coastlines and communities. Britain has had the wettest winter since national records began in 1910, with "energetic" storms that saw gusts of up to 108mph.

Spring tide at Tynemouth. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Lasting for 12 months, the 50,000 study has been launched to examine the direct impact of the weather in south west England. It is hoped the project, carried out by scientists from Plymouth University, will help develop adaptation strategies to protect from future storms.

Professor Gerd Masselink, principal investigator at the university's Rapid Coastal Response Unit said: "The coastal impact of this sequence of extreme Atlantic storms has been very significant.

"At several locations, prominent coastal landforms - such as bridges, stacks and arches - have disappeared, suggesting that at least some of the coastal changes will be permanent. However, many changes will turn out to be, in fact, reversible - such is the nature of a dynamic coastline."

Loss of trees in storms 'could have been worse'

The storms that hit the UK this winter caused the greatest loss of trees since 1987 but the damage could have been worse, the National Trust said.

A fallen tree after the storms that battered Britain. Credit: Sophie Duval/EMPICS Entertainment

Over 50 National Trust sites have been surveyed with, with many gardeners, rangers and foresters saying that the losses have been the greatest in two decades although other sites had little damage.

Extreme weather is likely to become more frequent as the climate changes and there is a need to plan what trees to grow and where to make woodlands more resilient to the changes, National Trust nature and wildlife specialist Matthew Oates said.

The trust said nowhere had been as devastated as it was in 1987 or 1990 but some sites had lost hundreds of trees including valued ancient specimens.

Many trees were uprooted and blown over rather than snapped off, due to the saturated ground conditions.

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