Almost 2.4 million people in the US are employed in coastal tourism in a sector which earns around $59billion (£45billion) per year, according to the NOAA. The figures highlight just how many people are invested in the world’s coastal lines, but experts have warned that sandy beaches, the most attractive of all beaches, could be a thing of the past by 2100.
Experts have warned that sea level rises are going to rid half of all sandy beaches by 2100 if current climate trends continue.
According to the research, Australia will be hit the hardest with nearly 15,000 kilometres (more than 9,000 miles) of white-beach coastline washed away over the next 80 years, with Canada, Chile and the US tailing.
Other top 10 countries which could lose the most sandy shorelines are Mexico, China, Russia, Argentina, India and Brazil.
As for the UK, sandy beaches will retreat by more than 100m, depending on how quickly sea levels wise.
Andrew Shepherd, director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds, said: “Between a quarter and half of the UK’s sandy beaches will retreat by more than 100 metres over the next century, depending on how rapidly polar ice sheets melt.
“Unfortunately, ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland are both tracking the worst-case climate warming scenarios.”
However, it is not just aesthetics which will be lost if the sandy beaches disappear.
Beaches play a major part in coastal defence, so without them, nearby towns could be vulnerable to extreme weather.
Lead author Michalis Vousdoukas, a researcher at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, told AFP: ”Apart from tourism, sandy beaches often act as the first line of defence from coastal storms and flooding, and without them impacts of extreme weather events will probably be higher. We have to prepare.”
Since 1975, the world has been warming at an alarming rate, with scientists stating that the global temperature has risen by roughly 0.15-0.20C per decade.
While this figure seems relatively low, global warming is undoubtably having an effect on the polar ice caps which continue to melt.
Since 1979, the volume of ice in the Arctic, or North Pole, has shrunk by an astonishing 80 percent – which scientists have warned will cause major sea level rises.
If just the West Antarctic Ice sheet, where the Pine Island Glacier is, were to completely melt, sea levels would rise by three metres.
Climate models have shown that a sea level rise of more than two metres could permanently submerge large parts of the British coastline with the likes of Hull, Peterborough, Portsmouth and parts of East London and the Thames Estuary all under threat.
The planet has already seen an increase of 1C compared to pre-industrial levels which will contribute massively to the melting of the ice caps and subsequent sea level rise.
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