East Yorkshire coastal erosion

combined data 1951-2019

Physical measurement of cliff loss in the glacially deposited clays of the East Yorkshire coast began in 1951, using a series of erosion posts. Prior to this date, estimates of recession of the land relied at least in part on a comparison of cliff lines drawn on Ordnance Survey maps.

An improved system employing GPS technology was introduced in 1999, becoming fully applied at regularly spaced monitoring profiles in 2003. Almost all erosion posts were abandoned in 2010, with the remainder gone by 2013.

Information on cliff loss measurement since the middle of the nineteenth century is available at data in detail.

Only a few erosion posts and monitoring profiles approximate as regards location. An Excel spreadsheet has been prepared which attempts to overcome the difficulty and combine the two data sets.

Show monitoring locations
in Google Earth:

  • right click Temporary Places > Add > Network Link
  • at Link, insert
  • OK
  • click on Untitled Network Link
  • Pins Pr1 to Pr123 mark cliff top positions of monitoring profiles
  • Pins EP1 to EP120 mark locations of erosion posts (former system)
  • circled dots mark cliff top positions in 2003

Show monitoring profiles
on a map:

the combined data sheet

Rows represent the coast from just south of Bridlington to the neck of the Spurn peninsula, each row standing for a 100 metre stretch. There are 580 such rows.

Columns represent full years from 1951 to 2019. There are 69 such columns.

A year is deemed to be that in which the erosion occurred, not the year of measurement. Results from periods of twice-yearly monitoring are added together to make the year.

Annual cliff loss figures in metres for erosion posts and for monitoring profiles are inserted relative to geographical location within the 100 metre scheme. Brief descriptions of locations appears at the right of the data. A number of posts locations and one profile location have been lost to erosion. Coordinates can be obtained from respective data sheets: posts and profiles.

Gaps appear in the posts data when no readings were taken. Cumulative values following breaks in measurement have been averaged out, or ‘smoothed’, across the period to which they relate. Although less than satisfactory, smoothing prevents untrue peaks of erosion appearing in the data.

The data set for profiles is, apart from a couple of brief instances, complete from 2003 to 2019.

Colour grading is applied to show relative amounts of cliff loss. White denotes no loss, red maximum loss, with shades between. The grading is applied column by column, each year scaled separately.

 link to combined posts and profiles data spreadsheet


all cliff loss data (menu)


Prepared by Brian Williams.