Meteotsunami: The AD 1607 Bristol Channel Flood

Josephine A Westlake

Abstract


The cause of the 1607 Bristol Channel coastal flooding, despite it resulting in over 2,000 fatalities, remains controversial, with both storm surge and tsunami (wave) mechanisms proposed. Contemporary written accounts were examined critically in the context of a possible meteorological (weather) rather than geological (submarine landslide or earthquake) tsunami trigger. Evidence supporting both theories; storm surge and tsunami, is based primarily on historical accounts, however strong limitations have been found in the sourcing and interpretation of these documents. A geological tsunami is considered unlikely due to the lack of a realistic trigger mechanism while coastal topography (landscape) and climatology were found to be supportive of a meteotsunami (atmospheric pressure) source. Flooding from this mechanism is therefore proposed as a possible alternative to the surge and, if correct, demonstrates the potential for a similar mechanism to cause future dangerous flood events, both in the South West and around the British Isles.


Keywords


geography; history; flood; 17th century; tsunami; meteotsunami; storm surge

Full Text:

PDF

References


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Prof. David Tappin of University College London and the British Geological Survey and Dr. Harvey Rodda of Hydro-GIS for their supervision throughout the project.

REFERENCES

BBC (2005). Tsunami theory of flood disaster [online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4397679.stm. [Accessed 23 Jul. 2017].

BGS (2017). Tsunami or meteotsunami? [online] Available at: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/highlights/2011/tsunamiSWEngland2011.html. [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017].

Bryant, E.A. and Haslett, S.K. (2002). Was the AD 1607 coastal flooding event in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel (UK) due to a tsunami?. University of Wollongong Australia.

Davies, J., Jenkins, N. and Baines, M. (2008). The Welsh academy encyclopaedia of Wales. Univ of Wales Pr.

Douglas, C. K. M. (1929). The Line-Squall and Channel Wave of July 20th, 1929. Meteorological Magazine64: 187–189.

Glass, D.V. (1950). Gregory King's estimate of the population of England and Wales, 1695. Population Studies, 3(4), pp.338-374.

Haigh, I.D., Wadey, M.P., Gallop, S.L., Loehr, H., Nicholls, R.J., Horsburgh, K., Brown, J.M. and Bradshaw, E. (2015). A user-friendly database of coastal flooding in the United Kingdom from 1915–2014. Scientific data, 2.

Haslett, S.K. and Bryant, E.A. (2004). The AD 1607 coastal flood in the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary: historical records from Devon and Cornwall (UK). University of Wollongong Australia.

Holt, R. (2000). Society and population 600-1300. The Cambridge urban history of Britain, 1, pp.600-1540.

Horsburgh, K. and Horritt, M. (2006). The Bristol Channel floods of 1607 – reconstruction and analysis. Weather, 61(10), pp.272-277.

Keys, D. (2005). The great flood of 1607. BBC History magazine, 6 (3), pp. 46–47

McCabe, M.V., Stansby, P.K., Cunningham, L.S. and Rogers, B.D., (2014). Modelling the impact of tsunamis on coastal defences in the UK. Coastal Engineering Proceedings, 1(34), p.36.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25506/LEMP12201962

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2019 Josephine A Westlake

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.