Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rising seas threaten renowned French coast

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: France's Aquitaine coast stretches north from the Spanish border to the Gironde river estuary, encompassing rocky bluffs, giant lagoons, deltas, beaches and Europe's largest dune. Now climate change has laid siege to this natural oasis, dramatically speeding up the erosion of the 270 kilometre-long (168 miles) Atlantic coastline and threatening local communities.

A study published in 2006 by the European LIFE program identified 13 coastal communities as erosion "hotspots". "There is a lack of sand on the beaches, because of a period of warming -- climate change," confirmed Cyril Mallet, geological engineer and project manager for the French geology and mining research agency BRGM.

Climate change means rising sea levels, more violent storms and increasing rainfall in a region already suffering from its location on the Bay of Biscay, where ocean waves carry 500,000 cubic metres (17.6 million cubic feet) -- about 200 Olympic swimming pools -- of sand southward every year. Cliffs are sliding into the sea, beaches are disappearing, dunes that protect forests, towns and roads are in danger, and the tourism trade is in jeopardy, local experts said….

Edouard Manet's 1871 painting, "The harbor at Bordeaux"

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