Welcome to PAP/RAC Mediterranean Coastal Alert! This newsletter is regularly updated monthly. It contains abstracts of selected current articles and archives on various environmental themes, in particular those dealing with all aspects of coastal issues. The selection is made from the articles published in the leading international scientific journals. This newsletter is an excellent way of keeping you updated with coastal studies and processes.

In this issue Issue No. 13, 2010-10-15

Impact of recent climatic change on growth of low elevation eastern Mediterranean forest trees
(Abstract...)

Experimental Study of Wave Breaking of Periodic Waves on a Gravel Beach
(Abstract...)

Coastal Vulnerability to Oil Spill Pollution: the Case of Noirmoutier Island (France)
(Abstract...)

Determinants of Coastal Tourism: A Case Study of Florida Beach Counties
(Abstract...)

Abstract

Impact of recent climatic change on growth of low elevation eastern Mediterranean forest trees

Evidence is presented of how Pinus halepensis Miller from dry habitats at <300 m elevation of four Greek island regions have responded to climatic conditions of the last two centuries. We compared historical periods of low growth due to low precipitation with the recent period of significant precipitation decline. In all cases trees’ growth patterns across the twentieth century were consistent with trends in annual (rather than seasonal) precipitation, with lowest values in both precipitation and radial growth during the last two decades of the twentieth century, the worst conditions for tree growth in more than 200 years. The data are compared with trends across different vegetation belts of the northern Mediterranean basin. Drought related tree mortality in Greece in 2000 and 2007 coincided with the most severe fire outbreaks on record. IPCC WG I (2007) climate scenarios for the Mediterranean suggest a further decline in precipitation, particularly in the eastern regions. Should this occur, growth reduction in trees, tree mortality and damage from forest fires are likely to become more severe.

Keywords: Climatic change; Eastern Mediterranean; Forest trees growth patterns; Greece; Precipitation.

Source: D. Sarris, D. Christodoulakis and C. Körner (2010); “Impact of recent climatic change on growth of low elevation eastern Mediterranean forest trees”, Climatic Change Journal; Received: 18 May 2009; Accepted: 15 June 2010; Published Online: 21 August 2010.

Contact: dkchrist@upatras.gr

Link: SpringerLink

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Experimental Study of Wave Breaking of Periodic Waves on a Gravel Beach

The characteristics of wave breaking for periodic water waves on a gravel beach are investigated by means of a laboratory experiment that employs a wave flume. Until now, most studies of breaking waves have concentrated on impermeable or sandy beaches. While considerable knowledge has been acquired in this regard, scant experimental data are available regarding the characteristics of waves breaking on gravel beaches. Additionally, waves breaking on a gravel beach can be affected by its groundwater table because the beach has a relatively higher permeability than an impermeable or sandy beach. The associated impact of the seepage flow on wave transformation must also be taken into account. To simulate groundwater, a specially designed water-level control tank is used. The breaking of waves is studied in 835 hydraulic model tests, including the effects of groundwater and bottom slope. The experimental results of the breaking index, which includes the breaking wave height and breaking water depth on a gravel beach, are compared with the existing breaking wave formula for computing breaker height and depth. The experimental results indicate that breaking wave heights and water depths are less than those that would take place on a sandy beach. Furthermore, the higher the groundwater table, the higher the breaking wave height and water depth.

Keywords: Breaking index; Breaker height; Breaker depth; Groundwater level

Source: Kwang-Ho Lee and Norimi Mizutani (2010); “Experimental Study of Wave Breaking of Periodic Waves on a Gravel Beach” Journal of Coastal Research (Fall 2010), Vol. No. 26, Issue 5, pp. 967-975; Research Papers; Received: 4 March 2010; Accepted: 18 May 2010; Published Online: September 2010.

Contact: leekh@civil.nagoya-u.ac.jp

Link: Journal of Coastal Research Online Journal

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Coastal Vulnerability to Oil Spill Pollution: the Case of Noirmoutier Island (France)

Over the last 30 years, oil spills have contributed significantly to coastal and marine pollution, causing disturbance of the coastal environment. This recurrent hazard has increasingly been taken into account through prevention plans in Coastal Zones Integrated Management. Numerous studies have attempted to analyse the effects of oil pollution, in particular to identify those areas that are the most vulnerable. Although several studies have considered both environmental and socio-economic issues, most of them have focused only on environmental vulnerability.
The aim of our research is to formalise an alternative approach to map global vulnerability, using both environmental and socio-economic factors. This article describes and discusses the methodology used to identify the critical variables required to assess coastal vulnerability to oil spills. The first part introduces previous research and identifies the parameters that have been used to map this type of vulnerability. The study area is presented in the second part of the paper. The third part presents the method we used to compute a spatialised vulnerability index that is based on a multicriteria analysis including both environmental and socio-economic parameters. The final part of this paper describes and discusses the results of the implementation of this method on Noirmoutier Island located off the west coast of France. The resulting synthetic mapping for risk monitoring, carried out using a geographical information system, seems to be a relevant and useful complementary tool to improve the management of oil spill crises.

Keywords: Oil spill pollution; Vulnerability; Risk management; Geographical Information System; Decision support.

Source: P. Fattal, M. Maanan, I. Tillier, N. Rollo, M. Robin and P. Pottier (2010); “Coastal Vulnerability to Oil Spill Pollution: the Case of Noirmoutier Island (France)”, Journal of Coastal Research (Fall 2010), Vol. No. 6, Issue 5, pp. 879-887; Research Papers; Received: 19 October 2006; Accepted: 10 April 2007; Published Online: September 2010.

Contact: paul.fattal@univ-nantes.fr

Link: Journal of Coastal Research Online Journal

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Determinants of Coastal Tourism: A Case Study of Florida Beach Counties

The coastal zone of the United States is a major source of economic growth and as a result has seen significant increases in population over the past 50 years. Most aspects of the coastal economy-tourism and residential and commercial development are heavily dependent upon the environmental preservation and recreational quality of ocean beaches. In earlier work, we documented the economic benefits of ocean beach enhancement projects on several important Florida tourism-dependent counties, which are reflected in greater-than-expected increased earnings in the tourism sector. However, the direction of causality of the analysis was somewhat ambiguous. Although we anticipated that beach nourishment projects would attract visitors, it is equally true that, in the allocation of scarce beach nourishment project dollars, it is likely that eroding beaches in areas that are already flourishing tourist destinations will attract beach nourishment funding to preserve their tourist industries. This article links an exploratory spatial data analysis of the tourism sector with a statistical study of the economic determinants of coastal tourism in Florida. Using the predicted likelihood of beach nourishment projects over the 1970-2000 study period as an explanatory variable, we estimate the growth in earnings in the tourism sector between 1970 and 2000. This gives us a clearer understanding of the complex temporal and spatial relationships that influence the coastal economy.

Keywords: Tourism; Beach nourishment; Coastal zone.

Source: Y. L. Klein and J. Osleeb (2010); “Determinants of Coastal Tourism: A Case Study of Florida Beach Counties”, Journal of Coastal Research In-Press; Received: 3 November 2009; Accepted: 31 January 2010; Published Online (Online Ahead of Print): 6 July 2010.

Contact: yklein@gc.cuny.edu

Link: Journal of Coastal Research Online Journal

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