Colombia could lose 17,000 hectares of beach by 2040

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Climate change will bring irremediable effects to the coastal area of Colombia during the next four decades, having a definite impact on the coastline

Colombia could lose 17,000 hectares of beach by 2040

The Third National Communication on Climate Change in Colombia concluded that by 2040, the coastal region of Colombia would lose a total of 17,000 hectares of marine land, this will be the product of the rate of rising of Pacific and Caribbean waters, oceanic acidification, Accelerated erosion in the littoral region and the inclusion of foreign species.

Leer en español: Colombia podría perder 17.000 hectáreas de playa para 2040

This statistic also distributes a total of 5,049 hectares of said proportion only in the Caribbean region, with the remaining 12,000 being confined to the destitute cities of the Pacific coast. The same document has also been able to point out that if this ratio is maintained until the middle of 2070, the volume increase of the affected lands could rise to values close to 7500 and 26100 hectares respectively.

Climate change in Colombia: an environmental problem that threatens the survival of beach ecosystems

Unlike other regions of the world, the Colombian coast faces the serious risk of being flooded by a phenomenon known as "oceanic dilation", in which, the surface of the sea, when heated by the heat of the atmosphere, expands, occupying, therefore, a higher volume and satisfying said imbalance with the continental spaces of the coast that are in greater proximity to the line of the sea.

In the words of the director of Vulnerability and Adaptation of the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam) Jorge Enrique Gutiérrez, this factor by itself is not responsible for the endangerment of important urbanized areas. Climate change must also be added to the urban and demographic vulnerability of significant populations settled on the coast.

Sea level rise increases directly and proportionally to the vulnerability index that many coastal populations have. The ensuing floods, not only endanger the urbanism of important municipal areas and historic structures, but also affect the surrounding population through phenomena such as the shortage of fresh water, and an inevitable loss of homes and homes. This last factor is inevitably linked to tourism since the main access roads could be affected and blocked definitively.

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Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta: the impact of sea level on coastal cities

Because it is located on the mouth of the Magdalena River, Barranquilla is included among the list of the most vulnerable cities in the Colombian coast compared to the rise of the sea. The effects of the increase in temperature have worried the experts for a decade now, one of the measures implemented being the control of vehicular traffic and the non-use of palm trees and non-native plant species for the setting of urban spaces.

In the case of Puerto Colombia, its closest population, the authorities are fighting against the high marine erosion promoted in sections such as its urban center and the village of Salgar.

Regarding Cartagena de Indias, the National Ministry of the Environment has been one of the institutions which recently have placed greater emphasis on the vulnerability that this population has to climate change in Colombia. According to its calculations, 54% of its extension is threatened by these elements, a measure of which 86% corresponds to the historical and colonial heritage areas, and the other 70% to the mangrove areas. It is known that since 2014, the Cartagena Plan Competitive and Climate Compatible (Plan 4C) is working to address these problems.

Like other regions of the Colombian coast, the construction of spurs has been an essential activity in Santa Marta during its last two decades. Despite this, some sectors of the town have not been able to avoid being affected, as in the case of the Santa Marta Club and the Costa Verde Spa. The Ministry of Environment has also reported the upcoming disappearance of a stretch of the Troncal del Caribe highway that connects the city above with Barranquilla.

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The IDEAM has divulged other vital data about the disappearance of numerous sectors of the city. These include bays such as El Rodadero Sur, Taganga, and Pozos Colorados. The municipalities of Ciénaga and Pueblo Viejo are indicated as the most likely to be flooded during the winter and excessive rainfall.

What role can the Plans for Territorial Planning (POT) play in coping with the rise in sea level?

In mid-2014, the Seventh World Urban Forum held in Medellín concluded that 99% of the 1202 municipalities at the national level have a coherent and consolidated Plan of Order. It seems that this type of administrative tools are the only possibilities of solution that Colombia has to avoid the destruction of its coastal zone due to the impossibility of facing the effects provoked by Co2 emissions globally. However, despite these measures, certain government sectors argue that even this section, to be useful, deserves to be worked on.

Two of the most important of these have been the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, IDEAM, and the Superintendency of Public Services, which stand out as 47 coastal municipalities, only 17 currently carry out cleaning plans that take into account the Beaches. The fact that in itself demonstrates the need for the inclusion of maritime spaces in the most recent governmental plans. By mid-August 2018, the Ministry of the Environment notified the expiration of 897 POT, insisting not only on its renewal but also the inclusion of different environmental variables related to climate change in Colombia.


LatinAmerican Post | Abraham Nuñez

Translated from "Colombia podría perder 17.000 hectáreas de playa para 2040"

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