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Shrinking shores: Half the world's beaches could disappear because of climate change


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Shrinking shores: Half the world's beaches could disappear because of climate change

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  • The main causes are sea-level rise and erosion from storms.
  • Beaches in the United States will be "greatly affected.
  • "Sea level has been increasing at an accelerated rate during the past 25 years."

Bye-bye beaches?

Half of the world's beaches could disappear by 2100 because of severe erosion linked to climate change, a study published Monday suggests.

The main causes are sea-level rise and erosion from storms, the study says, which warned of "the near-extinction of almost half of the world's sandy beaches by the end of the century." 

Beaches in the United States will be "greatly affected," as will shorelines in Canada, Mexico, China and Chile. In the U.S., beaches along the East Coast and the Gulf Coast will experience the most erosion, lead author Michalis Vousdoukas said in an e-mail to USA TODAY. 

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.

The study found that West Africa will see some of the worst losses, where more than 60% of sandy coastline may be lost in countries such as The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. 

Australia will also take a hit: When the total length of sandy beach projected to be lost is analyzed, Australia would be hit the hardest, with more than 7,000 miles at risk. 

Beaches are valuable for recreation, tourism and wildlife while also providing a natural barrier that protects coastal communities from waves and storms.

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“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 write.

 

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