The world’s sandy shorelines are declining in protected marine areas which could threaten plant and animal species and cultural heritage sites, a global survey of beaches with satellites data from NASA and the US Geological Survey shows.
About 24 percent of sandy beaches worldwide are eroding, while 27 percent are growing, showing the findings published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The view from space provided researchers with a more accurate picture of just how much of Earth’s shorelines are beaches.
They found that about a third (31 percent) of all ice-free shorelines are sandy or gravelly and Africa has the highest proportion of sandy beaches (66 percent) and Europe has the lowest (22 percent).
The results showed that beaches in Australia and Africa are experiencing more erosion than growth, a process scientists call accretion.
The opposite is true for all other continents. Asia is experiencing the highest rate of overall accretion, the team discovered.
This is most likely due to artificial coastline development in China and land reclamation, or draining the land and making it suitable for human use, in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the authors.