A beach is a loose-particle-filled landform next to a body of water. A beach’s particles are usually comprised of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, and other similar materials, or biological sources, such as mollusk shells or coralline algae. Depending on the local wave activity and weather, sediments settle in various densities and structures, resulting in a variety of textures, colors, gradients, and layers of material.
Although some beaches occur in freshwater, the majority of beaches are found around coastlines, where wave and current activity deposits and reworks sediments. Natural processes such as wave action and strong weather events cause erosion and change in beach geologies. Beaches can be supported by coastal dunes that provide shelter and regeneration for the beach when wind conditions are favorable. However, as a result of climate change, these natural forces have become more intense, irreversibly modifying beaches at a faster rate. According to some projections, climate change-driven sea level rise would cause up to half of the world’s sandy beaches to vanish by 2100.
About a third of the world’s coastline is made up of sandy beaches. These beaches are popular for recreation, and they play a significant economic and cultural role in the local economy, frequently boosting tourism. Some beaches feature man-made infrastructure, such as lifeguard stations, changing rooms, showers, shacks, and bars, to support these usage. They may also have surrounding accommodations (such as resorts, campers, hotels, and restaurants) as well as residences for both permanent and seasonal occupants.
Beaches across the world have been dramatically altered by human forces: direct affects include poor construction practices on dunes and coasts, while indirect human impacts include water pollution, plastic pollution, and coastal erosion due to sea level rise and climate change. Some coastal management strategies are intended to conserve or restore natural beach processes, while others, such as beach nourishment, are used to actively rehabilitate beaches.
Undeveloped or unknown beaches are beaches that have not been developed for tourism or enjoyment. Preserved beaches are key biomes that play vital roles in aquatic or marine biodiversity, such as sea turtle breeding grounds or seabird or penguin nesting regions. Beaches and their related dunes are vital for protecting inland ecosystems and human infrastructure from harsh weather.
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