Sea level rise shown to drive coastal erosion



Our research has shown that an important relationship exists between sea level rise and sandy beach erosion. The link is highly multiplicative, with the long-term shoreline retreat rate averaging about 150 times that of sea level rise. For example, a sustained rise of 10 cm in sea level could result in 15 m of shoreline erosion. Such an amount is more than an order of magnitude greater than would be expected from a simple response to sea level rise through inundation of the shoreline.

Sea level is certainly only one of many factors causing long-term beach change. Shoreline revisions from inlet dynamics and coastal engineering projects are more pronounced in most areas of the US. east coast and tend to mask the effect of a rise in sea level even over extended intervals. The implication is that sea level rise is a secondary but inexorable cause of beach erosion in such areas.