The World's Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline

The World's Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline

The World's Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline

The World's Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline

Synopsis

Take this book to the beach; it will open up a whole new world. Illustrated throughout with color photographs, maps, and graphics, it explores one of the planet's most dynamic environments--from tourist beaches to Arctic beaches strewn with ice chunks to steaming hot tropical shores. The World's Beaches tells how beaches work, explains why they vary so much, and shows how dramatic changes can occur on them in a matter of hours. It discusses tides, waves, and wind; the patterns of dunes, washover fans, and wrack lines; and the shape of berms, bars, shell lags, cusps, ripples, and blisters. What is the world's longest beach? Why do some beaches sing when you walk on them? Why do some have dark rings on their surface and tiny holes scattered far and wide? This fascinating, comprehensive guide also considers the future of beaches, and explains how extensively people have affected them--from coastal engineering to pollution, oil spills, and rising sea levels.

Excerpt

We, the authors of this book, often think we are the luckiest people in the world. We have walked on and looked at beaches all over the world, on all seven continents. With our feet and eyes we study one of the world’s most dynamic natural environments. Best of all, the work is part of our job: We study the present as geologists in order to understand the past, and as educators to pass on our global experience to students.

At times we have walked around chunks of ice that were pushed ashore by cold Arctic winds so that they bulldozed beach sand on their way. At other times we have tramped along steaming-hot beaches in the tropics next to rain forests alive with strange noises and filled with beautiful butterflies. Some beaches were remote, tens of miles from the nearest person, while others were lined by subsistence villages full of people who mistook us for “officials” because they could fathom no other reason why we would be there. We have walked along some of the world’s great tourist beaches, crowded with sun worshippers escaping from their busy lives in well-to-do societies. Often we have appeared to be out of place, wearing long pants, long sleeves, hats, and boots among the more scantily clad beach goers; and instead of lolling on the beach or enjoying the surf, we often were wandering into the dunes or clambering over seawalls carrying our cameras and notebooks. in striking up acquaintances with the locals and tourists, we have learned much about these beaches that we might not have observed and have discovered much about people’s conceptions and misconceptions regarding beaches.

We have seen much and found many things that seem strange; these represent natural riddles to be solved, and some of the questions within the riddles remain.

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