Half of world’s beaches are threatened by climate change, study reveals

Photo by Kirt Edblom, flickr

Tyler Chalfant | March 3rd, 2020

One of the best known effects of global climate change is the expected rise in sea level. Recent research revealed that almost half of the world’s beaches will have retreated significantly by the end of the century due to coastal flooding. 

The threshold used to determine whether a beach would disappear was whether erosion is likely to exceed 100 meters by 2100, given that most of the world’s beaches are narrower than that. Michalis Vousdoukas, a scientific officer at the European Commission, who was one of the lead authors of the study, said that this is a conservative estimate. Many coastlines will be threatened even sooner, with 14 to 15% of coastlines facing severe erosion in the next thirty years.

There are several human impacts that could still change these numbers. Coastal developments and beach nourishment efforts can affect a beach’s health, though sea level rise is expected to outweigh all of these factors. By limiting carbon emissions, up to 40% of the beach losses projected by 2100 could be limited as well. 

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