Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coastal defences causing Northern Ireland's beaches to disappear

Linda Stewart in the Belfast Telegraph:  Sea defences designed to protect us from the waves are causing many of our best-loved beaches to erode away, it’s been claimed. Coastal expert Derek Jackson said we need to make better use of scientific expertise when it comes to managing our coasts.

Prof Jackson says that people build homes in certain places because they admire the view. But the sea wall they build to protect that home from the storms deflects the waves back and gradually eats away at the beach.

Prof Jackson tackled the issue during his inaugural professorial lecture at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus. In it, he outlined how Northern Ireland is now leading the world in coastal research, bringing an improved understanding of the potential danger of coasts across the globe from climate change.

“Modern coastal science has advanced much in recent years due to the advent of state-of-the-art monitoring and computer modelling, revealing a great deal about how coastlines function as a complex environmental system,” he said. “Management of the beach and dune zone, however, still lacks proper science-led approaches.”

Prof Jackson said most countries are ill prepared for sea level rise. Until now, we have benefited from a geological ‘bounce’ that has seen Northern Ireland rising after its release from a mile-thick icesheet that pressed on it in the last Ice Age. That rise has kept pace with sea level rise, providing us with a level of immunity against the rising waters….

Dunes in Tyrella, Northern Ireland, shot by Albert Bridge, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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