Caribbean beach changes and climate change adaptation

Beach monitoring data are presented and show an average beach erosion trend of 0.5 m yr −1 in eight Caribbean islands over the period 1985–2000, with elevated rates in those islands impacted by a higher number of hurricanes. The data are based on 5 to 15 years of continuous monitoring, conducted at three-month intervals, at 113 beaches (200 profile sites) on eight islands, using standard methodology. The causes of the erosion are discussed and include anthropogenic factors, climate variability and projected climate change. Based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections for the Caribbean region, and the likely increase of anthropogenic stresses such as coastal development, it is likely that the beach erosion trend will continue and increase. Nonexclusive approaches to help beaches adapt to climate change include structural, planning or ecological measures. Two case studies illustrating climate change adaptation measures are discussed, one focuses on coastal planning measures in Anguilla and Nevis, and the second focuses on ecological measures, specifically the rehabilitation of a coastal forest in Puerto Rico. These case studies have not reached a stage where their effectiveness can be evaluated, however preliminary outcomes show that community-based climate change adaptation measures require careful planning such that the entire community is involved in a participatory manner and sufficient time is allocated for awareness-raising, information-sharing and discussion.

Associated spaces

Anguilla , Puerto Rico

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