EU report about vanishing beaches was alarmist and wrong, scientists say
Sandy beaches are much less vulnerable to rising seas than was claimed in a recent European Commission study which caused “unnecessary alarm”, research has found.
Beaches will survive by migrating landwards as the sea level rises as long as they are given space to move and not impeded by sea walls and other structures on the coast, the research shows.
The new findings contradict claims made in March in a study by the commission’s joint research centre, which supplies scientific evidence to guide EU policy.
The study was publicised with a press release headlined “Climate Change: Life’s a (disappearing) beach”.
It claimed that half of the world’s beaches could disappear by the end of the century under current trends in climate change and sea levelsrise.
The study also suggested that rising seas could wipe out almost 1,000 miles of sandy beaches in the UK by 2100.
But scientists from 12 universities around the world, including Ulster University and the University of Plymouth, re-examined the data and methodology that underpinned the study and found it was based on flawed computer models and an “arbitrary and unjustified” assumption about the fate of beaches as shorelines moved.
They have published a strongly worded rebuttal to the study in the same journal, Nature Climate Change, in which it appeared. They say its conclusions are not just wrong but could result in “economically and environmentally disastrous” solutions being implemented.