Increased risk to the public from rockfalls as a result of the forecasted heatwave
Take notice of warning signs and avoid going directly under or on top of cliffs, no matter how tempting it might be.15/07/2022 By BGS Press
BGS is warning of the increased potential for rockfalls during the weekend’s forecasted heatwave.
Temperatures are expected to reach in excess of 35°C in some areas, particularly from Sunday 17 to Tuesday 19 July 2022.
The warm weather has the potential to attract large numbers of people to coastal areas.
Geologists are sending an important message to take particular care and stay away from cliff edges when visiting coastlines across the weekend and into next week.
People are advised not to ignore any warning signs around cliffs or at the coast, which are there to assist public safety.
There is a potential link between rockfalls and high temperatures.
Heat causes rocks to expand and, particularly as they cool, pre-existing cracks can widen and new cracks can form.
Fluctuations in temperature can increase the risk of rockfall.
We would like to reiterate the warnings that the RNLI and local councils share regularly about the dangers of being near cliffs.
Our coast is a dynamic environment that is changing all the time and the potential threat to human life is very real.
Our advice is: take notice of warning signs and avoid going directly under, or on top of cliffs, no matter how tempting it might be.
Catherine Pennington, BGS Landslide Specialist.
Landslides frequently occur along the coast of the UK. Although landslides are generally more associated with prolonged or heavy rainfall, rockfalls can also happen during and after heat extremes.
Scientists are still conducting research to fully understand this process. However, they warn that cracks related to instability can be difficult to see from the top of the cliff, as can unsupported overhanging rocks; reasons scientists say it is so important to stay well away from cliff edges and to avoid going under them.
The Met Office has issued its first-ever red extreme heat warning for south-east and central England, alongside an amber extreme heat warning for the rest of England, Wales and southern Scotland, with temperatures set to soar between 17 and 19 July 2022.
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