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Beaches at risk of disappearing

Schiermonnikoog Island in the Netherlands in 1986 (right) and in 2016 (left)

Lauren Dauphin / Nasa Earth Observatory

Half of the planet’s beaches could disappear by the end of the century due to rising sea levels and erosion caused by climate change, according to projections by Michalis Vousdoukas, from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and his colleagues. They examined satellite images of coastline changes from 1984 to 2015 and extrapolated them for the coming decades based on two climate change scenarios: one optimistic and the other pessimistic. In the former, sea levels would rise by 50 centimeters (cm) and 95,000 kilometers (km) of beaches would be eroded worldwide (Nature Climate Change, March 2). In the latter, the sea would rise by about 80 cm and 132,000 km of beaches would be eroded. Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, in Africa, could lose more than 60% of their beaches. In absolute numbers, Australia would be one of the most affected countries, losing almost half (12,000 km) of its beaches.