This summer, due to social distancing and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, access to Europe’s beaches is more of a struggle than usual. However, by the end of the century a seaside holiday may be even more difficult, due to the effects of climate change.
Popular seaside locations along the Mediterranean and Atlantic could lose their appeal, as sea levels rise with the temperature. This will only add to the damage already done by humanity, and accelerate the erosion of sandy shores.
Among the highly popular beaches at risk are San Teodoro in Sardinia and Lignano Sabbiadoro in the Venetian Lagoon, the Greek islands of Lefkada and Lesbos in the Ionian Archipelago and the north-eastern Aegean Sea, Saint-Tropez on the Côte d’Azur, Santa Cruz in Tenerife (the Canary Islands), and those on the islands of San Jorge and San Miguel in Portugal’s Azores archipelago.
We have analysed the data generated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, discussed in an earlier article. Specifically, we have calculated the average level of beach erosion in each municipality in the five EU member states with the most extensive shoreline and the most seaside tourism in Europe, namely France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal.
From our elaboration of the data it emerges that in the top 100 municipalities with beaches most at risk, 60 are in France (more than two thirds in the regions of Poitou-Charentes, Lower Normandy and Aquitaine), 17 in Spain (almost all in Galicia, the Balearic islands and the Canaries), 9 in Greece (two thirds in the west and Macedonia), 5 in Italy (almost half in Sardinia) and 4 in Portugal (half in the Azores archipelago).