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.
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