How do you prepare the coast for climate crisis? – Executive Digest

The climate crisis caused by man-made greenhouse gases – mainly linked to fossil fuels – manifests itself not only in average temperature increases, but also in extreme weather events such as violent storms and floods. And melting ice causes sea levels to rise and warmer ocean waters.

Along the coast of the Iberian Peninsula, sea level rise is accelerating, according to a study by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, quoted by the Spanish newspaper ‘El Pais’: according to the authors, the annual rate of increase between 1948 and 1948 was 1.6 millimeters. 2019. However, it has increased to 2.8 millimeters per year by 2019. The combination of extreme weather events and the inevitable rise of the sea represents a serious threat to the coast, leading to the rethinking of many coastal infrastructures.

In neighboring Spain, the passage of the storm ‘Gloria’ on the Valencian coast raised a debate about solutions to combat the effect of the water: in the town of Belregard, with 4,500 inhabitants, the seabed was in bad shape and the authorities thought it was not worth it. It makes a lot of sense to spend a lot of public money on continuing to rehabilitate the municipality’s waterfront.

The work progressed and the Belrecord promenade was repaired with government funding: however, the intervention helped to demolish part of the infrastructure, removing about 350 square meters of concrete surface, which was once again occupied by beach sand. A few kilometers to the north, in the Valencian municipality of Chuca, the space reached 2,750 square meters.

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Activities on the coast are the responsibility of the state and work carried out there is the responsibility of the Directorate General of Coastal and Marine Affairs of the Ministry of Environmental Change. Currently, according to data provided by the Ministry of Teresa Ribera, 72 projects related to the need to adapt the maritime route to face the effects of the climate crisis are in the implementation phase or in advanced implementation.

And what is at stake? Removal and retreat of footpaths, but also demolition of all types of buildings, as well as redevelopment and environmental measures to stabilize beaches, protection of dune systems and creation of breakwaters, etc. In total, these works exceed 248 million euros, which come from European funds – at the moment, projects are implemented or implemented in 22 of Spain’s 25 coastal provinces.

In April 2022, another storm hit the southeast coast of the peninsula. One of the worst affected was the Estácio beach promenade in the Murcian municipality of San Javier. This was rectified by emergency works to reduce the width of this infrastructure from six to three metres. In total, about 390 square meters were captured for the beach.

Another example is the project to restore the dune system at the iconic Samil Beach in Vigo, which is in the bidding stage for more than 2.1 million euros. Half a century ago, a footpath was built on the dunes of this beach, which will now be laid 27 meters inland, which will allow the restoration of about 9 thousand square meters of beach.

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The project is “an essential restoration measure so that the coast naturally adapts to the predictable rise in sea level”, as dunes and vegetation act as buffers. Based on projections from the IPCC – an international panel of experts that X-rays the evolution of climate change under the auspices of the UN – the ministry explains in the mission’s document that sea levels will rise by 48 centimeters by 2050. It is expected that “the dry beach will disappear completely if the existing wall is not demolished and the promenade is moved 27 meters”.

And, according to the same plan, “within the timeframe up to 2045, the coastline will recede by about 6.4 meters”, meaning that “waves from major storms will hit the wall of the existing corridor and weaken it. The coastline profile and its gradual disappearance”. By 2100, the expected retreat will reach 30 meters.

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