Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
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Coastal Dynamics and the Naturality of Littorals
Alessio Acciarri, Carlo Bisci, Gino Cantalamessa
and Giorgio Di Pancrazio
Coastal dynamics issues would not have had particular relevance a few
decades ago, when attention was focused on the advance of beaches and the
silting up of harbors more than on littoral erosion , and when it was a com-
mon belief that human actions could not effectively counteract natural mor-
phoevolutionary trends, such as the reduction of relief and shoreline
After the Second World War, the situation began to change and the
shoreline trend inverted in the 1970s, when strong coastal erosion started to
threaten many facilities, such as roads and railways, and seaside resorts
were heavily damaged, dramatically compromising touristic and seashore
According to most scientists, the decrease in solid load brought to the
sea by rivers is indeed the primary cause of such erosion, at least in Italy.
This sharp and dramatic reduction of sediment supply to the beaches has
been caused by extraction of material from riverbeds, obstruction of
rivers by artifacts, such as dams and river cross bars, the abandonment of
fields, and the reforestation practices of mountain slopes, all connected
with industrialization and strong urbanization of plains and coastal areas.
Moreover , climate change has been causing a continuous rise in sea lev-
els and more frequent storms with higher risk of seawater ingression in
the coastal plains and the destruction of characteristic dune environments
(e.g., mouth of the Po River, the Sentina Regional Natural Reserve, and
so on).
This situation fully reflects what is now happening along the coast of
the Marche Region (and along almost every portion of the Italian shore-
line). Recently, local and national newspapers have frequently reported of
extensive storm damage to beaches and facilities. As a consequence of this
regressional trend, many expensive counteractions, mostly funded by local
governments, were adopted. Very often, such coastal defense works (e.g.,
breakwaters, groins, and so on), lacking adequate planning to prevent neg-
ative effects on the coastal dynamics of the site and of neighboring areas,
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