We may even lose our beaches due to CO2
Are we going to lose our beaches due to the increase in CO2? There is a risk, according to the first scientific research that linked atmospheric emissions, sea acidification and coastal erosion.
The study, carried out by IAS-CNR and Ca’ Foscari University as part of the RITMARE project, and published in Climatic Change, showed that dunes and beaches might change their appearance due to the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.
The researchers examined the chain of effects caused by the rise in CO2 on the marine environment analysing the case study of the Bay of San Giovanni in Sardinia, estimating a decrease in the sediment at the base of the dune systems of up to 31% by 2100, resulting in coastal erosion and an increased risk of flooding.
“Far from river mouths, dune-beach systems can be formed, entirely or in large part, by carbonate sediment produced by marine ecosystems, such as underwater meadows of Posidonia oceanica”, explains Simone Simeone, researcher at IAS-CNR, who coordinated the study. “This sediment may be dissolved by the increasing acidity of the oceans. According to recent studies, the pH of the oceans is likely to drop of 0.4 units by the end of the century. The acidification of the oceans is caused, as is widely known, by the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ”.
Even submerged sediment would be at risk. “This forms the ‘foundations’ of the beach-dune system, the sedimentary balance of which might be disrupted”, concluded Emanuela Molinaroli, Professor of geomorphology and sedimentology at Ca’ Foscari University’s Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics.