With the climate crisis, up to 65% of Balearic beaches could disappear

·2-min read
The Balearic Islands could lose up to 65% of their beach area due to the climate crisis.

By the end of the century, the Balearic Islands may no longer be able to rely quite so much on their main tourist asset: their beaches. Due to the effects of the climate crisis, which are likely to shape new landscapes, the Spanish destination popular with Europe's summer vacationers could lose up to 65% of their beach area, in a worst-case scenario modeled by scientists.

From the white sands of Platja d'Es Trenc or the secluded Platja de Coll Baix in Mallorca, to the coves of Cala d'Algaiarens or the dreamy blue of Cala Macarella in Menorca, not to mention the golden sands of Platja de ses Salines in Ibiza... These natural treasures of the Balearic Islands -- enjoyed by holidaymakers year after year -- could one day disappear under the effect of climate change. Rising waters, floods and tides are all criteria that have been analyzed by scientists to predict the future shape of landscapes in the Spanish islands.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, the study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Oceanographic Center of the Balearic Islands. Their methodology involved assessing factors such as the shape and slope of each beach, the graininess of its sand, and the extent of seagrass meadows.

With the effects of climate change, extreme weather events are forecast to become more pronounced in some parts of the world but slightly weaker in others. In the Balearic Islands, the researchers suggests that the height of the waves could lose between 10 and 15 cm in extreme weather conditions, bearing in mind that today's waves can measure between two and four meters high. Previous studies have predicted that the sea could rise between 50 and 67 cm around Ibiza, Menorca and Mallorca, the three main islands of the archipelago.

As a result, by the end of the century, the Balearic Islands' coastline is estimated to have retreated by 9.2 meters. This would cause the disappearance of 37 beaches out of a total 869 recorded. Worse, 84% of these sandy areas could be completely flooded during extreme weather events. And while this beach area would not disappear, it would leave a totally devastated landscape after the water recedes.

The scientists also studied the worst-case scenario that could happen. In this case, 65% of current beaches in the Balearic Islands would no longer exist, while 86% of the remaining beach area would be flooded during extreme weather.

Bérangère Chatelain

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