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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

Linta River Delta and Dunes, Madagascar

Inform
Oct
21

An astronaut on the International Space Station used a long lens to shoot this photograph of the complex shoreline near the Linta River delta in southern Madagascar.

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Sunscreen Chemical Imperils Coral Reefs Around the Globe

Sunscreen contains a chemical – Oxybenzone – that scientists believe is causing massive damage to coral reefs worldwide and threatens their very existence, researchers warn.

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And Now for Some Good News About Climate Change

Small things like energy efficient lightbulbs and big ones—like solar panels and light rail transportation—are making a difference. Australian author Tim Flannery counsels cautious optimism by showing how the millions of small actions taken by individuals are driving down oil consumption and points out how new “Third Way” carbon-capture technologies promise to reduce emissions and create massive economic opportunities.

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OAS, Principality of Monaco & National Geographic Join Forces for the Oceans

To mark this year’s fifth anniversary of the admission of the Principality of Monaco as an observer to the Organization of American States (OAS), the Embassy of Monaco is spearheading a forum, free and open to the public, within the framework of the OAS Policy Roundtables in an area of special interest to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and central to the agenda of his Foundation: the preservation of the oceans and marine conservation.

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When Dams Come Down, Salmon and Sand Can Prosper

Erosion, Inform
Oct
20

Studies of dam-removal projects show that migratory species like salmon respond quickly to improved conditions once a dam is removed. But the removal of a dam is demonstrating that there can be another beneficiary: the beach.

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Who ‘Owns’ The Beach? (!) In Daytona, Cars, Turtles And Hotels Duke It Out

Driving is not permitted on most beaches in Florida. But in Daytona Beach and other communities in Volusia County, it’s a tradition so ingrained that nobody would even talk about banning vehicles on the beach. It was a taboo subject. The thing that brought it up was protecting sea turtles.

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On the Coast, a Warm and Wet Future Unfolds

Sea level rise is a big deal for North Carolina’s low-lying northeastern corner, one of the most vulnerable coastlines in the nation. About 2,000 square miles of the coastal plain rise one meter or less above sea level.

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Two Degree Celsius Warming Locks in Sea Level Rise for Thousands of Years

A jump in global average temperatures of 1.5°C to 2°C will see the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves and lead to hundreds and even thousands of years of sea level rise, according to new research.The research highlights the moral significance of decisions made now about mitigating climate change.

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Why the Philippines is Being Battered By Yet Another Fearsome Typhoon

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Oct
19

The Philippines sits in what scientists call the “warm pool” in the Western Pacific, with nothing between the country and open water.

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Recent / Inform

New Sea-Level Rise Handbook Highlights Science and Models for Non-Scientists

August 30th, 2015

Coastal managers and planners now have access to a new U.S.G.S.handbook that, for the first time, comprehensively describes the various models used to study and predict sea-level rise and its potential impacts on coasts.

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Staying Safe in Sandy Beaches

August 28th, 2015

Beach sand contains all kinds of microorganisms, including those that can harm human health. Now, an international panel of scientists is recommending monitoring the sand at recreational beaches, to minimize health risks for beachgoers.

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What Would a Tsunami in the Mediterranean Look Like?

August 27th, 2015

Researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece.

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The Fingerprints of Sea Level Rise

August 26th, 2015

When you fill a sink, the water rises at the same rate to the same height in every corner. That’s not the way it works with our rising seas.

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NASA: Rising Sea Levels More Dangerous Than Thought

August 26th, 2015

The consequences of global sea level rise could be even scarier than the worst-case scenarios predicted by the dominant climate models, which don’t fully account for the fast breakup of ice sheets and glaciers, NASA scientists said today (Aug. 26) at a press briefing.

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Establishing El Gouna, Egypt

August 26th, 2015

In 1985, sand and coral dominated the Red Sea coast in an area about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of Hurghada, Egypt. Three decades later, development has radically reshaped the coastline.

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NOAA Awards Grant Funding to Boost Coastal and Ocean Resilience

August 25th, 2015

NOAA has awarded more than $675,000 in grants to 13 projects aimed at aiding coastal communities in their fight against marine debris, the agency announced today.

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NOAA Declares Deaths of large Whales in Gulf of Alaska an Unususal Mortality Event

August 24th, 2015

NOAA is declaring the recent deaths of 30 large whales in the western Gulf of Alaska an “unusual mortality event,” triggering a focused, expert investigation into the cause.

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10 Years Since Katrina: The Climate Connection is Clear (Op-Ed)

August 24th, 2015

Rising sea levels increase the probability of storm-induced surges. As with Katrina and Sandy, they are often the most destructive aspects of hurricanes…

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Researchers Sample Enormous Oceanic Trash Vortex Ahead of Clean-Up Proposal

August 24th, 2015

Researchers returned on Sunday from mapping and sampling a massive swirling cluster of trash floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, as the Dutch-borne crew works to refine a clean-up strategy it will roll out globally.

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