Here in the UK one of the biggest problems we face when it comes to climate change is coastal erosion. There are currently 190 million people on the UK coast whose homes could be underwater by 2100.
The rising of temperatures, due to climate change will become a major issue for coastal areas. Although some believe that these higher temperatures will increase the appeal of beach holidays due to more sunny and warm days, making the rise in temperature a positive. Warmer weather means more water is evaporated, which creates more rain. This rain will cause further flooding and by 2080, 1.2 million homes will be affected by these floods.
These high temperatures are also melting glaciers, which is causing sea levels to rise. Between 2013 and 2021, sea levels have risen on average around 4.5 mm per year. As sea levels continue to rise, waves will become higher and much more powerful, leading to further coastal erosion. By 2080, 100,000 homes will have been affected by coastal erosion.
Within the UK there are five coastal areas that are most at risk, these are Northwest Scotland, South Wales, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, East Anglia, and the Thames Estuary. Out of these areas, the East of England is to be hit the hardest due to its low-lying land and soft sediment. As the sediment is soft it is more vulnerable to erosion.
As land disappears and floods destroy areas, pressure is added to those that live and work in these areas. Especially farmers that rely on the land to grow crops and graze animals, and those that work in the tourism sector.
There will become a growing need for the people that live in these areas to relocate. However, as the land value drops, people will find it increasingly difficult to sell their homes.
It isn’t only us that will suffer as our coastal areas erode, but also the wildlife that live there. As the land erodes, we lose habitats that contain the biodiversity that we naturally find at and around our beaches and coasts.
This isn’t just an issue for the UK, in the World Economic Forum’s 2019, Global Risk Report, they concluded that around 90% of the world’s coastal areas will be affected by climate change through both flooding and erosion.
There are solutions to slow down the rate of erosion, as governments around the world are already putting in place water pumps, sea walls and surge barriers to protect their coasts. These are not 100% guaranteed to work, therefore we need to put forward new ideas on how to combat erosion to save our coastal areas.