Geography Essay

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One soft coastal management strategy would be that of beach nourishment. Beach nourishment is a common method used by many countries, including Singapore and the United States, among other influential countries. Its main objective is to import sediment and replenish materials lost through longshore drift and erosion from destructive waves, and is one of the more popular soft coastal management systems worldwide. This is usually done on a large scale, and extends the beach seawards, usually by close to a kilometre, depending on the local environment or necessity. With the replenishment of new sediment, it greatly improves the quality of the beach, and increases protection from storms and tides, protecting upland structures and infrastructures from storm surges, tsunamis, and unusually high tides.

A successful example would be that of Florida beach in Miami. The state’s Beach Erosion Control Program (BECP), which aims is “to develop and implement a long term regional proactive beach management program for the state of Florida”, protects and restores its beaches through a comprehensive beach management planning program that played its part in extending the Miami beach shoreline by 762m in efforts to counter erosional forces, and now results in Miami beach being one of the nation’s most popular tourism site as well as contributing to making the state’s seaside aesthetically pleasing.

However, beach nourishment requires a great amount of continuous sustainability since it only mitigates erosion instead of permanently solving the problem, not including the starting cost for the import of sufficient sand. It is significantly costly to transport large quantities of sand to fill up the beach, and needs constant resupply to ensure sustainability, as longshore drift and destructive waves will still act upon it. Also, the sand being eroded and transported by waves and wind can affect the marine ecosystem.

The second possible soft engineering strategy is the growth of coral reefs, which serve as undersea barriers that can help lessen the strength and impact of incoming waves, and are adopted by many countries due to its both permanent effectiveness and aesthetic properties. Technically, man-made reefs are every bit as effective as natural reefs, although since natural reefs don’t normally grow near beaches as much, man-made structures in the form of oil rigs, ships, tires etc. are sunken to promote growth of marine life. The strategy also helps control erosion, block ship passage, or improve surfing. This reef will toughen over time with the coral secreting calcium carbonate that allow the reefs to have harder outer skeleton, increasing durability, in the meantime adding to the natural beauty and rich biodiversity of the beach. However, it must be noted that although this natural, eco-friendly, beautiful and long term solution may seem to be a flawless idea, such reefs are extremely difficult to grow due to its sensitivity towards water quality and temperature, requiring very specific water conditions for optimum growth, adding on to high maintenance costs. In addition, the amount of time needed for such reefs to be fully developed could take close to a decade, and within that time the coastline might still be pounded and heavily influenced by erosional forces.

One instance would be Osborne Reef is an artificial reef off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is one of Florida’s many artificial reefs, and is used more primarily for fishing. However, it effects are still relatable in our risk evaluation. In the 1970s, the reef was the subject of an ambitious expansion project utilizing old and discarded tires. The project ultimately failed, and the "reef" has come to be considered an environmental disaster, ultimately doing more harm than good in the coastal Florida waters. As there were no exceptional efforts made to ensure the non-corrosivity of the steel restraints, they summarily failed, resulting in the loosing of...
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