Coastal erosion is the wearing away of land and the removal of beach or dune sediments by wave action, tidal currents, wave currents, drainage, or high winds. Coastal erosion can occur along any coast where there are waves, but it is most common along the shorelines of continents and large islands.
There are several factors that can contribute to coastal erosion, including:
- Sea level rise: As sea levels rise, the waves and tidal currents that erode the coast become more powerful.
- Wave energy: The energy of the waves that crash onto the shore plays a major role in the erosion process. Higher energy waves are more likely to cause erosion than lower energy waves.
- Beach slope: A steep beach slope can increase the energy of the waves and make the beach more vulnerable to erosion.
- Beach material: The type of material that makes up the beach can also affect erosion. Harder materials like rock are more resistant to erosion than softer materials like sand.
- Coastal defenses: Human structures such as seawalls and groins can interrupt the natural flow of sand along the beach and cause erosion in some areas while protecting others.
Coastal erosion can have serious consequences, including the loss of valuable property and habitat, as well as the destruction of infrastructure such as roads and buildings. There are several strategies that can be used to manage coastal erosion, including beach nourishment, the construction of seawalls and other protective structures, and the relocation of development away from vulnerable areas.