Global warming is now affecting the whole world but before this fairly recent catastrophe the world has had many natural changes over its existence. Going back many thousands of years there was not even a North Sea, it was a glacial landscape covered in ice. As time progressed this area was then covered in dense woodland and it was possible to walk to mainland Europe from East Anglia as it was connected. The only clues that tell us that this was once the case are some petrified tree stumps that can be seen at Holme-on-the-Seabeach.
As the years went by the land actually sank giving way to what is now known as the North Sea. And for the past few hundred years the coastline of East Anglia has been gradually eroded away. There are a number of contributing factors to this erosion, but it nevertheless has been a slow and continuous progression.
The Short Term
The most recent contribution to the erosion of the sands on the beaches has been due to the very powerful north winds that blow directly at East Anglia. But this has been added to by man’s commercial enterprises whilst digging for offshore aggregate. And this dredging is a main factor into the ever-decreasing beaches in the area.
East Anglia Shrinks
Many Scottish people may not be aware but Scotland is slowly rising up out of the sea, this is due to the Eurasian Tectonic Plate actually tilting. This has the opposite effect on Norfolk pushing it down further into the sea. So basically, the East Coast of England is gradually sinking. Surprisingly it has recently been at quite a fast rate, almost 3 millimeters per year. The sea-saw effect will see giant changes in the landscape of the British Isles, as man does not have the technology to halt this natural phenomenon.
Natural Geology of Norfolk
The disappearance of East Anglia’s coastline has also a great deal to do with the geology of the whole region. Most of the area comprises of a flat and low-laying landscape. In fact, the land lies far below the heights of high tides in the North Sea. And most of the coastline is made up of a sandy base with little or no rock to combat erosion. Inland from the sandy beaches, are marram-grass dunes, salt marshes and low sandy cliffs. Much of this coastline has no protection and is open to the elements at their most destructive.
In recent decades the North Sea has been susceptible to sea surges, and it has been common for the water to rise almost fifteen feet. The great floods of 1953 were a testament to how destructive these natural forces actually were. Just in Norfolk over five thousand homes were lost and over a hundred people perished. Much of the arable farming land was also washed away. And over on the opposite coast in Holland almost two thousand people died. The disappearance of the coastline of East Anglia seems irreversible, and global warming is also sticking its really large boot in as well. There are many factors that mean that future generations will not be able to sit on the beaches of East Anglia as the people of today can. So, take the opportunity and visit now while you still can.