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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Jersey Shore is eroding faster under climate change

Acting is expensive, inaction is incalculable
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GRAPHIC: CARA HALLIGAN ’25/THE HAWK

One of the most common places for Philadelphians to vacation is the Jersey Shore, where beachgoers can bask in the sun’s rays or cool off in the waves. In 2023, the Jersey Shore reportedly drew a crowd of 48 million visitors during the tourism season from June to August. The Jersey Shore typically generates over $40 billion and supports over 330,000 jobs each year, according to Terry Gallagher, a spokesperson for the NJ Division of Travel and Tourism. However, the Jersey Shore is eroding

Erosion is the process where wind, water or other natural factors wear down earthen materials — in this case, beaches. In an effort to combat this, New Jersey beaches have been bringing in sand to replenish areas that become eroded. Sand replenishment is often an expensive process as sand is pumped from offshore or brought in from another location to widen beaches. 

One Jersey Shore city in particular, North Wildwood, is having trouble replenishing the sand on its beaches. The city has spent $30 million replenishing sand, but that is no longer viable due to erosion making sections of the beach too narrow for sand dump trucks to pass. They have now resorted to banning tents, canopies and similar structures in order to free up beach space

Some methods can be used to fortify the shore from erosion. One is using sand dunes that help protect property against storm surges and flooding. Another method is creating structures, such as seawalls or breakwaters. These methods can be effective but have a high initial cost. However, this will only be a short-term solution, as they can sometimes adversely affect coastal ecosystems. 

Coastal ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. One such factor that is more frequent — and often stronger — is how storms massively erode beaches. Another factor of climate change impacting beaches is the rising sea level. These factors will further coastal erosion, worsening the problem as the sea level continues to rise

This issue isn’t going away anytime soon. We need to address the topic of climate change to make certain that coastal areas like the Jersey Shore are able to be enjoyed for years to come. The price to act is expensive, but the price of inaction is incalculable.

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