Coastlines take a battering from stormy seas, gales, windy conditions and every-day wave action. The combined effect of these processes shapes coastal landscapes across the globe.
In calm weather, constructive waves deposit materials eroded elsewhere and transported along the coast line via longshore-drift, onto beaches, thus building them up. Terrestrial material, brought to beaches by rivers and the wind, also contribute. In stormy weather, waves become destructive, eroding material away from beaches and sea cliffs.
In some areas, the removal of material far exceeds the quantity of sediments being supplied to sandy stretches, leading to coastal erosion. It is a dynamic process, with the consequences depending largely on the geomorphology of the coast.
In sandy beaches where dunes are common, coastal erosion can be managed by the addition of vegetation. In these settings, it is not only the force of the sea which drives erosion, but also wind, as the fine, loose sand grains are easily picked-up by the breeze, especially in blustery weather.
Grasses, such as the ones pictured in this week’s featured imaggeo image, work by slowing down wind speeds across the face of the dunes and trapping and stabilising wind-blown sands. The grasses don’t directly prevent erosion, but they do allow greater accumulation of sands over short periods of time, when compared to vegetation-free dunes.
Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. Photographers also retain full rights of use, as Imaggeo images are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence. Submit your photos at http://imaggeo.egu.eu/upload/.