Scientists have confirmed that the appearance of dunes and sand beaches are about to change because of increased emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The findings were published in Climatic Change Journal.
A study conducted by the University of Venice in collaboration with the National Research Council (CNR-IAS) of Oristano analysed the chain reaction of effects on the marine environment triggered by the rise in CO2. They estimated that from 2018 to 2100 the accumulation of sediment at the base of the Mediterranean dune systems could fall by 31 per cent, with the erosion of beaches which in turn would increase the chance of flooding.
“Far from the mouths of rivers, dune-beach systems can be formed, either wholly or partially, by carbonate sediment produced by marine ecosystems, for example, the underwater grasslands of Posidonia oceanica”, said a lead researcher Simone Simeone.
“These sediments may be dissolved by the increasing acidity of the seas; according to recent studies, by the end of the century, the marine pH may have fallen by 0.4 units. What is causing the acidification of the oceans, as is widely known, the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Simone added.
The research further revealed that the effects of this phenomenon can distort the sedimentary balance of a beach-dune system.
“The significant quantity of the sediment forming the beach-dune system is made up of the remains of organisms which are vulnerable to the effects of acidification.
A decrease in pH could significantly affect the prevalence of these organisms in marine ecosystems and consequently reduce carbonate sediment,” further mentioned Simeone.
Another lead researcher, Emanuela Molinaroli, concluded that the sedimentary balance might be disrupted.
“Some beaches that are progressively growing or stable environments might turn into eroding environments. Furthermore, this research demonstrates that the effect of acidification on the beach-dune system, combined with the expected rise in sea level, will result in further withdrawal of the shoreline as well as an increase in the adverse effects of floods,” added Molinaroli. (ANI)