A beach is a landform alongside a body of water like a lake, sea or even a river. It is composed of loose particles of sediments such as pebbles, gravels, cobblestones and sand that are moved by the action of waves. This movement of sediments can form sandbars which are characterized by their flat top and shallow depth.
The formation of a beach depends on the wave climate as well as the tidal regime. During summer, when wave heights are lower, sandbars tend to pop closer to the shore. Conversely, during winter when the sea is more active, sandbars are more likely to occur further out.
Beaches are also influenced by human forces, particularly beach nourishment. This activity involves adding new sand to beaches and is usually done when the existing sediment has been depleted. The placement of the added sand is important to ensure that it can be compacted before strong wind and wave action erode it.
While the sandbar is often seen as the main characteristic of a beach, there are many other features that make it attractive to humans. These include the shape of the beach, its sand quality and the presence of marine vegetation. In addition, there are numerous recreational activities that can be enjoyed at the beach, including swimming, jogging, sunbathing and walking.
In fact, a beach can be considered to be one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas in the United States, with more than 88,000 miles of tidal coastline. Since the early nineteenth century, beaches have become more than dynamic geological formations, however, and they have been embraced as places of rest and relaxation. While Victorians counseled restraint and modesty, Americans turned to the beach for vacations that were both refreshing and symbolic of middle-class respectability.
Beaches were reimagined as sources of revitalization, and physicians and former invalids promoted the healthful effects of inhaling salty air and immersing the naked body in chilly seawater. The popularity of beach vacations grew steadily, and by the early twentieth century, people from all social classes sought to relax at the seashore.
Today, beaches are a symbol of the American dream and have become one of the most visited natural attractions in the world. The United States has more beaches than any other country, with 153 million visitors in 1998. While some of these are pristine, many are polluted and threatened by erosion from climate change and poor construction practices. Fortunately, some of these beaches can be restored through beach nourishment and other coastal management practices. Whether you are planning to visit a beach or not, it is important to be aware of the potential effects that humans can have on these sensitive ecosystems. It is also essential to know how to protect yourself when visiting a beach so that it can remain a beautiful and relaxing place for years to come.