Impact of sea-level rise on the tourist-carrying capacity of Catalan beaches

Uxía López-Dóriga, José A. Jiménez, Herminia I. Valdemoro, Robert J. Nicholls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Tourism provides about 11% of Catalonia's GDP, with most accommodations placed being associated with the “sun-and-sand” model. Since beaches are the main resource to be exploited, it is important to assess how their future evolution can affect this economic sector. Accordingly, we present a methodology to assess the effect of shoreline evolution on beach recreational carrying capacity (BCC) at different territorial scales considering different climate change scenarios. Our results suggest that by 2050, in the absence of climate change, tourist BCC will decrease down to 83% of current values due to the dominant erosive behaviour of the Catalan coast. When sea-level rise is considered, BCC will decrease further, with expected values ranging from 74% to 53% of current capacity for the tested scenarios (RCP4.5 and High-end respectively). Hence, current erosional trends are adverse for future development of coastal tourism in Catalonia, and accelerated sea-level rise exacerbates this adverse situation. The adopted methodology permits to locate hotspots along the territory where local BCC values collapse as well as to predict when this will occur under a given climatic scenario. Moreover, the use of different spatial scales to integrate BCC permits to test management strategies to sustaining the recreational use of beaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-50
Number of pages11
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • Beach carrying capacity (BCC)
  • Beach management
  • Catalonia
  • Climate change
  • Sea-level rise
  • Shoreline evolution
  • Tourism

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