During the 19th century, beaches transformed from a perilous place into an ideal landscape of leisure. With the rise of an urban, industrial society, beaches became the preferred destination for vacationing. As the beaches grew in popularity, tourism became a major commercial industry. The beach was also a place of refuge for those seeking escape from the oppressive modern world.
In a nutshell, a beach is a strip of land extending from the surf zone to the upper limit of the wave swash. This is a narrow and gently sloping land area. It may be rocky or sandy. Sand is one of the most common types of material used to create beaches. Typically, sand is made from small particles of weathered quartz, which are often derived from the Appalachian Mountains. Other materials can include rocks, seashells, and pebbles.
Ocean currents are the main cause of the formation of beaches. In addition to moving sediments onshore, the ocean currents can transport them hundreds of kilometers away. This process is called longshore drift.
Beaches are shaped by the waves that interact with the seabed and the sand that is deposited on the beach. These processes can alter the morphology of a beach in just about any season. The shape of a beach changes with seasonal changes in the water level and temperature. During the summer, beaches are generally wide and thin, while during the winter, they are narrow and steep. As temperatures increase, the water level drops, making beaches wider. During the winter, the composition of the sand changes, with coarser sand being transported inland.
The most active part of a beach is the surf zone. This is where the waves meet the seabed and break. The break is a spilling breaker on low gradient slopes, or a plunging wave on steeper slopes. This breaks the energy of the wave into kinetic energy. The broken wave then flows shoreward as broken white water. A swash, also known as a backwash, is the flow of sediments parallel to the beach. The backwash is controlled by gravity.
During large cyclonic storms, the ocean can deliver a huge amount of sediment to beaches. This process, also known as longshore drift, is essential for the continued existence of beaches. It can also redistribute sediments from the eastern side of continental landmasses. It is also the cause of some sandbars on beaches.
In the winter, sand becomes more compact because it is pushed into the air by storm winds. These winds can be powerful enough to erode the beach. In addition to sand, some beaches are rocky and cold. There are also muddier beaches near rivers.
Beaches are a habitat for many wildlife. Some species of sea turtles nest in sand, and shorebirds depend on these sandy places. Animals also rely on the nutrients that are present in these areas. Several plants also grow in dunes. If the beach is polluted, it could harm wildlife. There are also harmful bacteria that can be found on beaches. It is recommended that visitors do not throw plastic or other trash on the beach. It is not only unhealthy, but it may prevent algae and sea plants from developing.