SCIENTISTS have released a new study suggesting 50% of the world’s sandy beaches could vanish by 2100 if nothing is done to curb climate change.
Dozens of tourism meccas – including the Costa del Sol – are under threat from erosion and surging sea levels.
But the experts were optimistic that the destruction could be reduced by 40% if moderate action was taken to reduce greenhouse gases.
The warnings come from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, northern Italy, which analysed 30 years of satellite images of sandy beaches, from Australia to Brazil and Europe.
Dr Michalis Vousdoukas, who led the research, said: “The results indicate around 50% of the world’s sandy beaches are at risk of severe erosion.
“Half of the world’s beaches could disappear by the end of the century under current trends of climate change and sea level rise.
“The situation can become more critical for small communities highly reliant on tourism.”
Spain’s beaches are fundamental to its highly vital tourism industry.
A mass erosion of its beaches could have serious economic consequences.
Using computer modelling systems, the study was able to forecast how the beaches, already having lost ground, would erode further as climate change worsens.
In a worse case scenario, areas like The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau could lose more than 60% while Australia was forecast to be hit the hardest, losing up to 12,000km of beach.
The study was published in the Nature Climate Change journal.