Beaches no more?
According to a study, half of the world’s beaches could disappear by 2100 because of severe erosion linked to climate change.
The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that the extent to which beaches are at risk depends on how much average global temperatures increase by the year 2100.
Greater temperature increases mean more sea level rise and more violent storms in some regions, causing more beaches to disappear beneath the waves.“The projected shoreline changes will substantially impact the shape of the world’s coastline,” more than a third of which is sandy beach, the authors wrote.
The study says that the main causes are coastal erosion and rising sea levels from storms, which warned of “the near-extinction of almost half of the world’s sandy beaches by the end of the century.”
According to the lead author of the study, Michalis Vousdoukas, beaches in the U.S. will be “seriously affected,” as well as shorelines in Chile, Mexico, Canada, and China. In the United States, beaches along the Gulf Coast and East Coast will experience the most erosion.
Vousdoukas, of the European Union’s Joint Research Center in Ispra, Italy, and other researchers used satellite images to track the way beaches have changed over the past 30 years and simulated how global warming might affect them in the future.
Large beaches will narrow by 100-200 metres on Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the Australian side of the Indian Ocean, wiping out more than 60% of sand deposits in a number of developing countries that are economically fragile and heavily dependent on coastal tourism.
But swift action to limit emissions and fight climate breakdown could help reduce the impact, experts say. “Moderate emissions mitigation could prevent 17% of the shoreline retreat in 2050 and 40% in 2100, thus preserving on average 42 metres of sand between land and sea,” Vousdoukas added.
Despite the shocking outcome of the study, not all hope is lost. The study’s authors said that even a “moderate” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions could prevent 40 percent of the potential shoreline retreat.
Skeptics have largely dismissed fears over man’s impact on global warming, saying climate change has been going on since the beginning of time. They also claim the dangers of a warming planet are being wildly exaggerated and question the impact that fossil fuels have had on climate change.