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Some Beaches Can Survive Rising Sea Levels

Beach with rising sea level

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An international team of coastal scientists from the United Kingdom, France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. has disproved the theory that half the world’s beaches will become extinct over the course of the 21st century in a paper published in Nature Climate Change. The team re-examined the data and methodology underpinning the original study and published their rebuttal in the same journal, after concluding that it is impossible to make such global and wide-reaching predictions with the data and numerical methods available today. The new report sees potential for beaches to migrate landward as sea level rises and shorelines retreat.

Beaches backed by hard coastal cliffs and structures such as seawalls are likely to experience “coastal squeeze”, resulting in decreased width, and eventually be submerged because they are unable to migrate, but those with space to move inland will retain their overall shape and form. As such, removal of coastline structures or beach nourishment may be the only methods to safeguard at-risk beaches.
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