Environment

Measuring sand well helps protect islands and coasts against climate change

Sydney, Australia, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- A new mathematical equation to measure the amount of sand more accurately will help protect islands and coastal areas against climate change and avoid conflicts over this key resource for development, a group of scientists proposed.

A study published Thursday in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports” revealed that current measurements assume that all grains of sand are spherical, which has resulted in 35 percent underestimation of carbonate sand surfaces.

Carbonate sands, which are derived from seashells, corals, and marine skeletons, tend to be elliptical, less dense, and with more holes and edges.

“Not all sand is the same,” said Ana Vila-Concejo, a Spanish researcher at the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney and co-author of this study with Amin Riazi, an academic at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Turkey.

The scientific work also pointed out that current standard engineering models also overestimate the transport of carbonate sands on the seafloor by more than 20 percent, among other calculation errors.

Both researchers believe that current sand measurements are providing an inaccurate picture of what is happening, especially in coastal areas that are vulnerable to climate change.

“Understanding how, why and when sediments move is crucial to managing and predicting the effects of climate change and our new work will help in the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies,” Vila-Concejo said.

Measurement errors also affect the construction and manufacturing industry, as sand is used to make mobile phones, as well as to build roads and buildings.

Illegal sand mining is carried out in some 70 countries and even in the last decade hundreds of people have died from conflicts over this resource in places like India and Kenya, Nature magazine reported last year.

Globally, between 32,000 to 50,000 million tons of sand are used each year on the planet, where urbanization and global population growth are fueling an explosion of demand, especially in China, India and Africa, according to Nature.

Riazi, Vila-Concejo and their team of scientists backed their studies on measurements by experimenting with carbonate sand from Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef in Northeast Australia, and developed new mathematical equations, which can measure the movement of the carbonate sands more accurately.

They then verified this by applying the equations to the existing data on the movement of carbonate sand accumulated over six years off the north coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

Scientists believe that measuring the movement of carbonate sand will be essential to prevent erosion of coastal areas. EFE-EPA

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