AN EXPERT has warned of storms and cliffs collapsing if climate change is not tackled.

Geography lecturer Dr Raymond Ward said more must be done to save Sussex’s coast by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The University of Brighton scholar said parts of the A259 could crumble into the sea in an “awful worst-case scenario”.

He said: “There are several factors that will impact coastal systems in Sussex.

“Sea level rise is likely to get worse over time thanks to climate change.

“We will also have increased rainfall, but that’s coupled with increased droughts as we have longer dry periods.

“Droughts means it’s harder for the ground to absorb rain, which will mean increased runoff and more flooding.”

Cliff falls are already a huge risk in Sussex.

“Some of them have been more prone to water build-up than others which can cause fractures in the cliffs,” he said.

Dr Ward said the severity of storms and sea level rise will depend on the level of cuts to carbon emissions.

But a failure to take action could cause four-metre-high storms, with many areas in Sussex at risk.

“Category five storms, like the one that just hit the Bahamas, are usually around six metres,” Dr Ward said.

“In a normal scenario, sea levels will rise by about 20cm by 2030, although it could be anything up to a metre if our emissions get worse.

“A large portion of Shoreham will be at risk of flooding too, but that should be alleviated by the flood defences.”

Dr Ward said it would be impossible to protect the entire Sussex coastline.

But projects like the Shoreham tidal defences could help fight the worst effects of climate change.

Dr Ward said: “Coastal systems are the areas most likely to be at risk of climate change.

“But they’re also the areas most likely to save us from it.”

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said it had invested £2.6 billion into coastal projects over the past six years.

He said: “Climate change means the risk of flooding and rate of coastal change will increase over the coming decades.

“Earlier this year the agency launched its draft flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy which looks at how we can build better resilience into our homes.”