The islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland comprise the Uists, Harris and Lewis. Photo courtesy of: © Andrew Cooper
Research published in the latest issue of the leading international journal Geology by Professor Andrew Cooper of the University of Ulster in conjunction with colleagues in the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrew’s, has discovered that the beaches and machair of the Uists and Benbecula are an unusual type of “barrier island’ that are more typical of coasts like those of the eastern USA.
Barrier islands survive by rolling landwards as sea levels rise and storms buffet the coast. Rather than being lost offshore, sand is conserved and pushed landwards, raising the surface of the islands as they move landwards.
However Professor Cooper is concerned that sea defence measures will prevent that process from taking place and will actually destroy the islands’ fragile agricultural ecosystem…