Europe is set to lose up to 15,000 km of shoreline due to erosion. The UK, France, Greece, Spain and Italy will be especially affected. And European holidaymakers will find less sand on beaches during their trips to warm destinations around the world.
Waterfront lifestyles, holidays in tropical resorts and plans to move to the seaside: all may end up relegated to history. Almost half of the world’s sandy beaches will be close to extinction by 2100 due to climate-driven coastal flooding and human interference, according to a new study by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission, to which we had prior access.
Besides endangering wildlife and isolated communities, sand erosion could inflict a heavy toll on areas rich in infrastructure, urbanization and mass tourism. As beaches retreat, such places will no longer be protected from the ocean’s ravages. Governments have started investing in counter-measures which may prove increasingly expensive, if not unsustainable.
Just 30 years from now, erosion will have destroyed 36,097 km (13.6 per cent) of sandy areas worldwide. It will progress further during the second half of the century, washing away 95,061 km (25.7 per cent) of shoreline.