Report: Balearic Islands’ beaches will shrink by up to 50 meters in 80 years

The rise of the sea off the coast of Spain is an increasingly felt reality and will increase even more in the coming years. A study that has just been made public reveals that the example of the Balearic Islands is an example of what is happening in the Mediterranean: Its beaches are indeed under threat and many of them will drastically diminish or even disappear by the end of the century.

beaches of the Balearic Islands by the end of the century it may recede between seven and 50 meters After raising the sea level by between 57 and 75 centimeters, according to the latest ‘Balear Sea Report’ presented last week by the various institutions and organizations of the islands. This means that many existing beaches that do not exceed 50 meters will disappear in 80 years.

According to research, Sea level rise in the western Mediterranean has accelerated in recent years. After an increase of 1.32 mm per year in the last 134 years, it has increased to 3.00 mm per year in the last 39 years. But the increase in the last 26 years is already 3.29 mm per year, consistent with the acceleration in the rate of increase in recent years.

The report shows thatAccording to official estimates, the most affected areas will be the southwestern, southern and eastern regions of Ibiza and Mallorca.

Majorca beach area of ​​interest


The islands’ major marine research centers, the Balearic Government and the Marilles Foundation, have released the 2021 version of the Balearic Sea Report (IMB) with 150 indicators and participation of 30 institutions, both public and private. about 98 people, including researchers and administrative staff.

This highlights the delicate situation facing not only the coastal natural environment, but also the tourism industry on the islands, which depends largely on its excellent beaches.

But it’s not just sea-level rise that threatens the beaches of the Balearic Islands. The study points to this constructions (marines, parking lots and other infrastructures) as well as heavy user traffic change the natural parameters of sedimentation and alter coastal drift. and sea currents.

There are occasions when these factors combine to cause the sand to recede spectacularly, just like at the beach. es Trenc in Mallorca, where the beach decreased by an average of 5.7 meters between 1956 and 2015however, at certain points of the greatest impact, about 19 meters were lost during the same period.

One of the points criticized by the report is the “inadequate management” of dry posidonia from beaches, as these organic matter deposits act as a barrier to protect the coast from storms. When they leave, they leave the beach vulnerable to waves, almost always due to pressure from the tourism industry.

Plastic pollution and downstream fishing

The report also shows that The Balearic coast is one of the main areas of plastic accumulation in the Mediterranean.. All surface trawls sampled the plastic debris.

In this sense, plastic was found on the seafloor in 66 percent of the sampled areas (average abundances of 2.7 and 0.3 kg/km2). In particular, the Serra de Tramuntana area (Mallorca) showed a high amount of plastic debris (between 30-40 kg/km2) on the seafloor.

On the other hand, 82 percent of the sampling points on the Balearic coast in 2020 showed “excellent quality”. However, the islands’ urban beaches are those that often show lower quality bathing water.

Posidonia meadows in the Balearic Sea CMA/Ibanat


According to the report, for its part, The islands’ professional fishing industry is in recession. Since 1950, boats have declined by 78 percent and crews by 90 percent. Professional fishing fell from 3,900 tons to 2,400 tons between 2002 and 2020, respectively.

The text is also available between 1993 and 2020. 1000 turtles stranded in Balearic waters (1,058), 512 alive and 546 dead.

In 2020, the largest number of trapped turtles (83) were identified, 30 dead and 53 alive, 47 surviving.

The Balearic Sea Report also highlights that in the depths of the sea there are dozens of different species of deep-sea coral that are endangered and nearly threatened.

These include bamboo coral, sea feather, red coral, and black coral. Since they support the biodiversity of the areas on the sea floor where light does not reach, they create habitats of great importance for the ecosystem.

The epidemic cut short the human pressure on the islands

The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 is clearly reflected in indicators related to pressures such as shipping, underwater noise, use of beaches or the human pressure index.

Like this, The maximum HPI in 2020 was 1,609,033 compared to 2002 levels. The highest recorded value in 2017 was 2,071,124 people.

It was reduced by 21 percent compared to the maximum value of 2019 (2,036,263).

For its part, it has grown from nearly 16.5 million tourists to three million (more than an 80 percent reduction) in 2020 due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

In 2020 there were less than a fifth of tourists visiting the islands in 2019. Such low values ​​have not been repeated since the mid-1970s. Moreover, the transportation of tourist ships decreased by 95 percent in 2020.

The advisory council of the Balearic Sea Report consists of the following institutions: Balearic Oceanographic Center of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (COB-IEO), Economic and Social Council of the Balearic Islands (CES), Marilles Foundation, Balearic Government Islands (GOIB), Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA, UIB-CSIC), Menorca Socio-environmental Observatory (OBSAM-IME), Balearic Islands Coastal Observation and Forecasting System (SOCIB) and University of the Balearic Islands (UIB).

The full report can be viewed at this link.

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Environment department contact address:crisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

Source: Informacion

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