Recording of and Technical Responses to Coastal Erosion of Touristic Aegean island beaches

Project facts

Project promoter:
University of the Aegean
Project Number:
Target groups
Researchers or scientists,
Civil servants/Public administration staff
Initial project cost:
Final project cost:
From EEA Grants:
€ 244,169
The project is carried out in:


Beaches form the most significant natural resource of the Aegean Archipelago, the economic development of which is driven by the 3S (Sea-Sun-Sand) tourism. At the same time, they are under increasing erosion risk due to the recorded Mean Sea Level rise (MSLR) and changes in the intensity of extreme weather events. The significance of the problem has been recognized by the internationally thus legislative instruments are already in force (e.g. the ICZM Protocol to the Barcelona Convention, and the European Flood Risk Directive 2007/60/EC). The present research project sets as primary goal the promotion of integrated coastal zone management scheme, as it will advance knowledge on the diagnosis/prognosis of the coastal flood risk at island settings, promote the participation of local communities and contribute in the development of policies for the protection/management of the island coastal zones. The main project objectives include: (1) Assessment of present/future coastal erosion trends at selected beaches of 6 Aegean Archipelago islands (Lesvos, Chios, Thira, Kalymnos, Chalki and Agathonisi). (2) Design of coastal protection schemes for the selected beaches under different scenarios of MSLR and extreme weather events, which will be environmentally sustainable and have acceptable cost/benefit ratios. (3) Development of a generalized beach erosion management protocol for the touristic beaches of the Aegean islands based on the project results. The project will present many benefits to the Central and Local Administration, the local communities as well as to the scientific community. The Norwegian partner, CICERO, will have a vital contribution to the project through its very extensive expertise in the study of socio-economic impacts of Climate Variability and Change; it is envisaged that the present study will be the beginning of long-term research collaboration.

Summary of project results

Beaches buffer the backshore coastal ecosystems and valuable infrastructure/assets against marine flooding. They also have a high earning potential: tourism, an economic sector producing 5% of the global economic product, has been increasingly associated with beach recreational activities (‘Sun-Sea-Sand-3S’ tourism model). At the same time, the already increasing beach erosion/flooding will be exacerbated by the projected mean sea level rise (MSLR) and potential changes in extreme events, with severe impacts on coastal ecosystems, infrastructure/assets and the beach carrying capacity for recreation/tourism, particularly in islands. Island beaches, which form major tourist destinations, are particularly vulnerable, due to their small dimensions and increasing densities of backshore development. The aim of the ERABEACH Project has been to provide a structured approach to (a) assess the beach erosion risk at 6 Aegean islands (Lesvos, Chios, Santorini, Kalymnos, Agathonisi and Chalki) under different SLR scenarios; and (b) design/test an integrated approach for the assessment of erosion at individual beaches and the design of appropriate technical responses. ERABEACH achieved all its objectives. Major outputs include: • Research protocols, tested at 6 islands and 8 individual touristic beaches, for: (a) the identification of beach erosion ‘hot spots’ at island level for efficient resource allocation and (b) erosion risk assessment and for the design of efficient technical adaptation measures at beach level. Beach erosion maps under different SLR scenarios were produced for the 6 islands, based on projections derived from morphodynamic model ensembles. Detailed studies for 8 inividual beaches included: assessment of the erosion risk, design/testing of cost-efficient technical adaptation options that take into account climate change impacts, in line with the provisions of Directive 2014/52/EU. These outputs provide major benefits to the island Municipalities. • Development/testing of a cost-benefit analysis approach targeting the proposed technical adaptation responses. • State-of-the-art techniques/systems for monitoring beach evolution/erosion and terrestrial sediment supply in different spatio-temporal scales. These, if developed further, can provide efficient monitoring for future coastal works (as required by Directive 2014/52/EU). leisure under climate change, based on questionnaire surveys and regional climatic projections.

Summary of bilateral results

Bilateral funding provided the opportunity for a prolongation of the cooperation between the University of the Aegean and CICERO Institute that enabled to study in deep the outcomes of ERABEACH project. More specifically, further data analysis by both partners led to a paper that concretely summarized the results of the ERABEACH project, and it was presented in the 15th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (CEST2017) in Rhodes, Greece (Velegrakis, A., Hasiotis, T., Tzoraki, O., Karambas, Th., Monioudi, I., Trygonis, V., Topouzelis, K., Chatzipavlis, A., Aaheim, A. and Orlov, A.: Recording of and technical responses to coastal erosion of touristic Aegean island beaches – The Erabeach Project). The paper was included in the conference proceedings (ISBN 978-960-7475-53-4). During the project, a group of three scientists (a post-doc fellow and two PhD students) visited CICERO Institute in Oslo, where they exchanged and improved knowledge and new ideas for the appropriate methodologies and the necessary data for an economic assessment of climate change impacts on the beaches. This was achieved by presentations and discussions that finally led to the outline of a scientific paper aiming at the coupling of the beach retreat results of the ERABEACH project and an economic approach targeting in the highly touristic beach of Kamari in Santorini island. This paper is planned to be published in an international journal. It is obvious that both aforementioned actions managed to strengthen the bilateral relations, which will be the pillar for future collaboration.