Climate change will destroy half of world’s beaches, says report

sandy beaches
The damage due to storms, cyclones and waves can be reduced by cutting carbon emissions, says a study by European Union’s Joint Research Centre.

The earth may lose almost half of its sandy beaches by 2100 with climate change manifesting in the form of violent storms, waves and rising sea level. A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change has estimated the risk to beaches due to rising global temperatures by the end of the century. The study says the damage to coastlines will depend on the average rise in global temperatures.

Around half of the beaches in the world will experience erosion which is more than 100 meters, scientific journal Nature quoted Michalis Vousdoukas, who led the team of researchers, as saying. Vousdoukas says many of these beaches will be lost forever.

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Scientists at the European Union’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, analysed the changes in coastlines across the globe in three decades using satellite images and estimated future changes due to geological factors and human activities. The erosion will majorly affect the world’s coastlines, says the study. Beaches act as a natural barrier protecting the coast from marine storms, cyclones and tidal waves.

Countries such as the United States, Mexico, China, Australia, Canada, Russia, Argentina and Chile may face huge damage to their coastlines, says the study. Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Pakistan, the island of Jersey and Comoros islands could see serious destruction. Scientists who conducted the study say the estimates are conservative and the actual damage could be higher.

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The study has taken two scenarios — the first assumes a 2.4 degrees Celsius rise in average global temperatures by 2100, while the other sees 4.8 degrees Celsius warming. The report says up to 40% losses can be prevented by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the major factor behind global warming. The Paris climate agreement seeks to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 C by the end of the century.

Sandy beaches comprise of a third of the global coastline. They have huge importance to the socioeconomic growth of several nations. A major part of the threatened coastlines is densely populated, which means there should be concerted efforts to address the possible damage.