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The health, beauty and ecosystem of our beaches is under threat

The driving cause for most of these problems is overdevelopment and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline, there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

Coastal Care Introduction

“Beach sand: so common, so complex, so perfect for sandcastles; and now it is a precious and vanishing resource.”

—Orrin H. Pilkey

Beaches are the most visited natural attraction on the planet. The coast attracts millions of vacationing people each year. People love the sand, the surf, the sea breeze, and the vacation ambiance so much that many come to the beach to stay. There is a magical feeling living near the ocean, but human migration towards the coast comes with a high environmental price tag.

A majority of the world’s population lives within 50 km of the coast and the projections are 75% by the year 2025. This strip of land represents only 3% of the total land mass of the planet. In this context, it is easier to understand the environmental impact. Over 70% of the earth is covered by water and with so many people living on the coast, we are polluting a major source of food, the oceans.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

The loss of life and economic impacts of major storms – cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes – and tsunamis would be reduced drastically if beaches were not developed. Unfortunately, recent examples of the problem are numerous: 1999 Indian cyclone Orissa (over 10,000 dead and $5 billion in damage), 2004 Indian Ocean tsumani (over 250,000 dead), 2005 Hurricane Katrina (over 1,800 killed and $80 billion in damage), and 2008 Hurricane Ike (over 30 killed and $30 billion in damage).

Today, the health, beauty, and ecosystem function of the world’s beaches are under threat and the driving causes for most of these problems are over-development and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

It is important to distinguish between erosion and erosion problems. Erosion refers to the landward retreat of the shoreline. Most of the world’s shorelines are eroding, a very few are building out (accreting). There is no erosion problem, however, until someone builds something next to a shoreline. All over the world in remote areas, shorelines are slowly retreating and no one cares. In a global sense, our continents are slowly shrinking, and in a very real sense, erosion problems are man made. On a high-rise, condo-lined shoreline like those in Spain and the Florida coast, erosion is a huge problem and will only worsen in the future as sea level rise accelerates. Sea level rise will accelerate erosion of the shoreline and have a dramatic impact on our infrastructures, our economies, and our way of life.

Sea level rise is one of the most important causes of global shoreline erosion. If the coastline is developed, shoreline armoring is often used in an effort to save the buildings from the eroding shoreline. Once this begins, the beaches will degrade and eventually be lost. In the long-term, however, these armoring efforts are in vain. The ocean will continue to rise as the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to degrade. The situation is made worse now because beach houses and condominiums are being built closer to the ocean than they were 25 years ago. Many of us are familiar with images of large beach houses about to fall victim to the oceans simply from daily erosion accelerated by the ever rising sea.

The work of the Santa Aguila Foundation will emphasize the impacts of sand mining and shoreline armoring: the first because the effects of sand mining have been largely ignored on a global scale and the latter due to its overwhelming negative impacts on the world’s beaches.


Surfing in / Inform

A softer approach, living shorelines as an alternative to a hardened coast

Erosion, Inform
May
15

Research over the last decade points toward the pursuit of living shorelines for coastal landowners seeking erosion control.But, with regulatory lag and miles of shoreline lost each year to harsh structures, it’s not always easy.

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Alien Waters: Neighboring Seas Are Flowing into a Warming Arctic Ocean

The “Atlantification” and “Pacification” of the Arctic has begun. As warmer waters stream into an increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean, new species — from phytoplankton to whales — have the potential to upend this sensitive polar environment.

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United Arab Emirates: Entering into a Sustainable Future

Wealth in the UAE is derived mainly from oil but the black gold will run out someday soon. For this reason, the UAE, similar to other petro-rich countries in the region, is activating a list of strategies to build a new framework for the future. This framework aims to be run only by renewable energies but keeping the same level of wealth, if not improving it. T

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USGS Tracks How Hurricane Floodwaters Spread Non-Native Freshwater Plants and Animals

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate may have spread non-native freshwater plants and animals into new water bodies, where some of them can disrupt living communities or change the landscape. Storm surges and floodwaters can quickly spread non-native aquatic species into waterways where they weren’t found before. They can even create temporary freshwater zones in saltwater environments

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In pictures: Kenya’s coastal conservation heroes

Just 30 km south of the booming port town of Mombasa, residents of two tranquil Kenyan villages are making history. Here, amongst the mud-walled houses and coconut trees, the people of Gazi and Makongeni villages have become the world’s first communities to harness the carbon market through mangrove conservation.

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The Baltic Sea as a time machine

Warming, acidification, eutrophication, and the loss of oxygen are examples of major changes being observed or expected for the future in coastal zones around the world. These processes are occurring in the Baltic Sea at a much faster pace than in other regions.

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New model could help rebuild eroding lands in coastal Louisiana

As coastal lands in Louisiana erode, researchers, environmentalists and engineers are all searching for ways to preserve the marsh coastline.

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Alligators on the beach? Killer whales in rivers? Get used to it

Sightings of alligators and other large predators in places where conventional wisdom says they ‘shouldn’t be’ have increased in recent years. These sightings signify the return of highly adaptable predators to prime hunting grounds they occupied long ago — a trend that opens new opportunities for future conservation.

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Sea-level rise: the defining issue of the century; Editorial

No graver threat faces the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. In the past century, the sea has risen 9 inches. In the past 23 years, it’s risen 3 inches. By 2060, it’s predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down.

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Recent / Inform

The Baltic Sea as a time machine

May 10th, 2018

Warming, acidification, eutrophication, and the loss of oxygen are examples of major changes being observed or expected for the future in coastal zones around the world. These processes are occurring in the Baltic Sea at a much faster pace than in other regions.

Read More

New model could help rebuild eroding lands in coastal Louisiana

May 8th, 2018

As coastal lands in Louisiana erode, researchers, environmentalists and engineers are all searching for ways to preserve the marsh coastline.

Read More

Alligators on the beach? Killer whales in rivers? Get used to it

May 7th, 2018

Sightings of alligators and other large predators in places where conventional wisdom says they ‘shouldn’t be’ have increased in recent years. These sightings signify the return of highly adaptable predators to prime hunting grounds they occupied long ago — a trend that opens new opportunities for future conservation.

Read More

Sea-level rise: the defining issue of the century; Editorial

May 6th, 2018

No graver threat faces the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. In the past century, the sea has risen 9 inches. In the past 23 years, it’s risen 3 inches. By 2060, it’s predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down.

Read More

Widening beaches might bring more hazards, researchers say

May 5th, 2018

Widening beaches might be linked to an increase in accidents, according to new data. The number of ocean rescues spikes after beaches are buffed up, according to the data published in the Journal of Ocean Research.

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Devil’s Punchbowl is beautiful, but dangerous

May 4th, 2018

The Oregon coast is famous for its dramatic seaside cliffs and headlands. One of the must-see spots along this photogenic shoreline is the Devil’s Punchbowl. Luring hikers into a beautiful open-sky cavern during low tide, the site fills with roiling sea water at high tide.

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Everglades under threat as Florida’s mangroves face death by rising sea level

May 4th, 2018

Florida’s mangroves have been forced into a hasty retreat by sea level rise and now face being drowned, imperiling coastal communities and the prized Everglades wetlands, researchers have found.

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The State of the World’s Beaches

May 3rd, 2018

Coastal zones constitute one of the most heavily populated and developed land zones in the world. Despite the utility and economic benefits that coasts provide, there is no reliable global-scale assessment of historical shoreline change trends.

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Could sunscreen be destroying our coral reefs? Hawaii lawmakers say yes

May 2nd, 2018

Hawaii is set to become the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate, two chemicals believed to be harmful to the environment.

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Cities from the sea: the true cost of reclaimed land

May 2nd, 2018

Asia is growing. Literally. From Malaysia to Dubai, luxury developments are rising on artificial islands and coastlines. Everybody wins – except the local sea life and the fishermen who depend on it

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
One Percent