What are the main drivers of coastal erosion?
Coastal erosion is a natural process that occurs when waves, currents, tides, and storms wear away the land and move sediment along the coast. However, human activities and natural factors can accelerate and exacerbate coastal erosion. The main drivers of coastal erosion are:
- Sea level rise: As sea levels rise due to climate change, the water comes further inland, causing erosion and loss of land.
- Wave action: Waves generated by storms and other weather events can cause significant erosion by pounding the coast and dislodging sediment.
- Coastal storms: Strong storms, such as hurricanes and cyclones, can cause severe erosion by increasing wave height and intensity, and moving large volumes of sediment.
- Human activities: Human activities such as construction, dredging, and beach nourishment can alter natural coastal processes, leading to erosion. Altering natural habitats, such as mangroves, reefs, and dunes, can also impact the coast’s natural defences against erosion.
- Natural processes: Natural processes, such as riverine sediment transport, wind erosion, and coastal bluff collapse, can contribute to coastal erosion.
It is important to note that the combination and interaction of these factors can be complex and site-specific, resulting in different rates and patterns of erosion along different stretches of coastlines. Understanding the local dynamics of these factors is crucial to managing and mitigating coastal erosion. Effective strategies include the use of nature-based solutions, such as restoring wetlands and mangroves, and the implementation of coastal management plans that consider the local environmental conditions and human activities.