No more Ibiza? Up to 65% of beaches in the Balearic Islands will be permanently lost by the end of the century due to climate change, study warns
Scientists have warned that up to 65 per cent of all beaches in the Balearic Islands will be permanently lost by the end of the century – and climate change is to blame.
A model was created to look at sea level changes under current climate change projections by researchers from the Oceanographic Centre of the Balearic Islands.
While the impact of the climate crisis on coastal areas has been widely studied, this is the first to show the impact specifically on popular tourist spots in the Balearics.
More than a quarter of the economy of the Balearic Islands comes from beach and sun tourism, so losing the beaches to climate change would be devastating.
‘Here we show that climate change will lead to the permanent loss of more than 50 per cent of the beach surface, rising up to more than 80 per cent during storm conditions,’ said study author Miguel Agulles.
These predictions are based on the worst case scenario of climate change, but efforts to cut carbon emissions could see a significant reduction in sea level rises around the world, the team said.
They also call on local and national governments to enact measures to reduce the risk of climate change on beaches, including by planting more seagrass.
Even under the most extreme climate change models, sea levels are not expected to rise everywhere on Earth to the same extent.
There will be differences caused by winds and ocean currents, according to researchers.
Earlier studies have predicted that around the Balearic islands, sea levels will increase by up to 26 inches, under the highest level of warming.
However, it isn’t just sea levels that will impact the quality of beaches for tourism.
Flood levels, rather than constant sea level rises, depend on tides and waves, and are more of an important indicator of the future shape of beaches, the team behind this study explained.