THALIS - Research Programme ISLA

THALIS - UNIVERSITY OF THE AEGEAN - Physical and Economic Impacts of Sea Level Changes on the Island Beaches of the Aegean Archipelago

Acronyme: ISLA

Coastal erosion is considered a very serious environmental threat, as large tracts of the global coastline are already under irreversible retreat; this is expected to increase due to (a) the projected rise in mean sea levels (SLR), (b) the potential intensification of wind and wave extremes and (c) reductions in the riverine sediment supply to coasts, resulting from changes in precipitation and/or the further expansion of river management schemes. At the same time, coasts are characterized by rapid economic development, increasing populations and ,thus, considerable exposure of infrastructure/assets to coastal flooding.

Beaches (i.e. the low-lying coasts built on unconsolidated sediments) are both morphologically dynamic and vulnerable to erosion. Beach erosion appears to be particularly alarming for insular beaches of the Aegean Archipelago, which are considered particularly vulnerable due to their limited size and sediment supply. At the same time, these environments are considered very significant natural and economic resources, forming one of the pillars of the Greek tourism industry; however, to date, there have been no detailed studies to assess their current state as well as their future evolution under expected climatic changes.

It is envisaged that the results of the study, which will be realized through 7 work packages, will provide a significant step towards the creation of a badly-needed inventory of the economically-important Aegean Archipelago beaches and a considered assessment of their erosion risk and associated economic vulnerability; in addition, the ISLA project will improve our ability to model and monitor the morphodynamics of beaches under changing climatic and human-induced conditions and assist in the development of effective management plans.

This research has been co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund – ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program "Education and Lifelong Learning" of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) ‐ Research Funding Program: THALES. Investing in knowledge society through the European Social Fund.