According to a study recently published by the Journal Nature Climate Change, as many as half of the world’s beaches could disappear by the end of this century. The study conducted by scientists from the European Commission’s Joint Research Center and universities in Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands explains the why, how, and possible prevention of it. By Kumar Shree
The researchers used projections of the rising sea levels, wave erosion, geology (physical structure) of the beach, infrastructure development around coasts, and nourishment supplied to the dams and beaches, in order to paint a clearer picture of the future that will have higher sea levels, and more severe storms. Out of all these factors, the rising sea level is what we need to be the most wary of. Apart from it, the rising levels of heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere by humans is accelerating the process and needs an immediate checking.
While most of us see beaches as only a recreational abodes and tourism centers, they are certainly much more than just that. Not only do they cover more than one-third of the world’s coastlines, but also play a critical role in cushioning the coastal areas from storm surge. For locals living in coastal towns, these beaches form an important component of their economic operations. For instance, in places like Brazil and Australia, most of the local population rely on these beaches for their bread and butter. Sadly, Australia tops the list of places that are likely to see the worst impact of receding shoreline. Other places on the list are: Argentina, Chile, China, Mexico, Russia, and the United States.
The same research sums up the beaches as dynamic environments that are totally capable of adapting to the changing sea levels. They can move back and forth to stay in sync with the sea. However, with rising infrastructural developments around the beaches, they are stripped of the abilities to replenish on their own. An alarming example of this can be witnessed at the Miami Beach, where thousands of tons of sand is put in to heal the eroded shoreline.