Protecting coastal dunes, vital to combat the effects of global warming

HE climate change It affects the world in many ways. This extreme weather events And rising sea levels among the most serious consequences. The European Atlantic coastal dunes have become the natural first line of protection against flooding and coastal erosion.. Understanding and predicting the behavior of dunes in relation to these events is essential for developing tools for effective coastal management. Scientists are on it.

ERoDES project coordinated by the University of Bordeaux (France) and financed with European funds, field observations to predict the behavior of coastal dunes Extreme sea level rise expected in the coming decades due to extreme weather conditions and climate change.

The results, information and information to be obtained through a variety of methods, including satellite data and laser light detection and range determination (LIDAR) technology. Useful tools for short, medium and long term coastal management strategies along Europe’s Atlantic coast.

The researchers have demonstrated a solid knowledge and understanding of geomorphological and hydrodynamic processes throughout various coastal environments in recent years and now plan to develop their numerical modeling skills through this project.

Millions of people live in places that are endangered by rising sea levels. West Carolina University

ERoDES will include the organization of public communication activities such as scientific trips, scientific festivals and presentations. new technologies used in coastal scienceLike drones to show how EU-funded research aims to help reduce the risk of coastal flooding and erosion.

flood protection

Identifying the impacts of climate change on the coasts is vital for the future of the 200 million Europeans living in coastal areas.and those who are already feeling the impact of global warming through extreme changes in sea level and flooding.

Given the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, the European Environment Agency Many parts of Europe could face ten times more coastal flooding by 2100 than they do today..

Especially for coastal cities, the problem will get worse. Scientists are convinced that dunes can play an important role in protecting coastal areas. It seems that the dunes currently do not offer as much protection as they did a few years ago, mainly due to the effects of human action.

Understanding how sand dunes respond to and recover from extreme weather events on Europe’s Atlantic coast is vital to the future of coastlines. And it will provide data that can be used to design. strategies to protect dunes, restore coastlines, and protect against future storms and floods.

The sand dunes of Maspalomas, one of the symbols of Gran Canaria. EFE / Elvira Urquijo A.

Another EU funded project, DUNES, appears to be complementary to ERoDES as it compiles the entire history of ERoDES. human-environment interactions in coastal areas around the world, which will help avoid further impacts in the future.

The DUNES project, which started in November 2018 and will continue until April next year, covers France, Portugal, England, Brazil, Mozambique, North America and New Zealand.

The beaches are in danger

Dunes are the keepers of the sand, they are reservoirs.“, says Joana Freitas, environmental historian at the University of Lisbon in Portugal and principal researcher at DUNES. “When there are bigger and stronger waves during storms, the sand is taken from the beach and this creates an underwater barrier, so subsequent waves will be blocked.” he explains.

Typically, over weeks or months, gentler waves gradually wash eroded shoreline sand back onto the beach. This shore surge Going back and forth in time is a normal coastal process that is often barely noticeable, but can be dramatic during storms.

Scientists are concerned that the natural balance will be disturbed, causing the destruction of beaches and the loss of coastal protection provided by the dunes..

After examining the evolution, response and recovery of eight coastal dune regions from North West England to South West France between 2011 and 2020, ERoDES scientists concluded that they were all subjected to and eroded by major storms, particularly due to extreme weather conditions. . winter of 2013-2014.

Dune in the Baltic sea. pixabay

However, Although all eight suffered the same storms, to the surprise of scientists, the dunes responded differently and recovered at different rates.. Some areas are reverting to the state they were in before the storms, while others are still recovering or have lost more sand.

Researchers are now looking for explanation for this surprising fact, which may have to do with the different environmental characteristics of each dune area, including tides, climate, dune size, shoreline shape and vegetation density.

Nature Based Solutions

One of the main findings of the projects, dunes with the steepest slopes lost the most sand.

another one is The recovery rate depends mainly on the amount of sediment present along the coast.. Being able to accurately assess these sediment balances is key to predicting the evolution of coastal dunes, the researchers said.

Both ERoDES and DUNES respond to the European Union’s (EU) initiative to help cities and local governments. better understand the climate threat what they are facing and how they will react in a timely manner.

Both projects are looking new approachesaway from “traditional arrangements” made by people, such as boardwalks, dams or embankments.

Confronted with these methods, scientists Future restoration and protection of dunes will depend on “cultivation of native vegetation and reintroduction of native plant species”.more environmentally friendly and relatively inexpensive actions”.

They are, after all,nature-based solutions“(SBN) is the same one that has been performed for centuries by some European coastal populations.

Coastal dune on a European beach. Pixabay

NBS intelligently uses nature’s own resources (clean air, water and soil) to meet environmental challenges while promoting biodiversity and providing environmental, social and economic benefits.

In addition to ERoDES and DUNES, other projects implementing SBN against coastal erosion are underway, including dune restoration such as REST-COAST (large-scale restoration of coastal ecosystems) and Interreg MANABAS (focused on the North Sea region).

DUNES project website:

ERoDES project website:


Contact details of the environment department: [email protected]

Source: Informacion


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