A beach is a landform that forms by the natural processes of attrition, abrasion, sediment, and hydraulic action. Some are wide and lush, while others are barren and rocky. Some have shell content that is considerable, while others are virtually empty. Some are also inhospitable – in the Arctic or Antarctica, for example, beaches are frozen almost the entire year. Beaches vary in width and are characterized by the berm, the area above the water that is surrounded by shrubs or trees.
Changing wave energy alters the shape of a beach’s profile. A steeper beach tends to have higher waves than a low-lying beach, while a low-lying beach tends to experience calmer waves and longer periods between breaking wave crests. Wave action carries sediment up a beach’s berm, where it remains after the water recedes. Onshore winds also carry sediment inland, enhancing dune systems.
Sand is made up of small pieces of rock that have been eroded by the sea. Some sand is made up of volcanic rock, which contains iron. Others are made of olivine, which is a form of volcanic glass. While some sand comes from ocean debris, most comes from coral reefs.
A healthy beach will continuously replenish its material. However, the process of erosion is accelerated by human activity. Humans can increase the rate of erosion through development, construction, and removal of vegetation. In addition, clearing land also increases the speed of runoff. Because it is not as dense as vegetation, it will carry more organic matter and silt, which will eventually be deposited into sand.
Beaches can be protected and restored by the Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces the Clean Water Act. The CWA regulates how stormwater, wastewater, and other pollutants get to the ocean. It also requires municipalities and companies to reduce their waste. The EPA also enforces laws regulating oil spills. In addition to this, it can also encourage green infrastructure, such as green roofs and porous pavements.
The development of the beach as a popular leisure resort dates back to the mid-19th century. During this time, fashionable spa towns began to develop. These seaside towns were a popular retreat for aristocratic vacationers. During the early 20th century, the seaside became fashionable and the seaside became increasingly popular.
Beaches are also important for the survival of many marine species. Animals that live on the beach depend on a local population to reproduce. Without the population of native animals to feed their young, the animals may not survive. When these animals are removed from the beach, they may have to resort to human intervention in order to repopulate. In addition, ocean erosion can muddy up the water, which harms the quality of coastal waters. This mud affects marine life and kills clams. It can also cover kelp forests and rocky intertidal reefs, which alter tidal exchange.
Beach nourishment is an approach to restoring a beach that has become eroded. The idea behind beach nourishment is to introduce new sediment to the beach to slow the process of erosion. The new sediment may come from nearby waters or be trucked in from another location. Ideally, the sediment should be similar to that which naturally forms on the beach.