Why Does Coastal Erosion Happen?

The Schools of the Pacific Rainfall and Climate Experiment notes that coastal erosion occurs due to wave and current activity, storms, earthquakes, wind, tides and the shifting of tectonic plates. Coastal erosion is a mostly natural process; however, man-made structures such as piers and harbors can contribute to erosion due to restructuring of the natural environment.

The Center for Ocean Solution notes that as sea levels rise and storms increase in frequency and severity, coastal erosion can increase. The source reports that according to scientific models, these types of climate change issues can cause coastal erosion to occur more frequently than in the past and in larger quantities. When coastal erosion happens, the displacement of sediment causes one section of beach to become narrower, while another section further down the coast becomes wider. The sediment that the coastal area is made of contributes to the effects of erosion. An area comprised primarily of hard rock or substrates, such as granite, may erode slower than one made of soft substrates, such as sandstone, that break down easily. Negative effects of coastal erosion include flooding of nearby communities, reduction of natural habitats, local water supplies becoming compromised and fewer or significantly smaller local beaches.