Soft solutions are all natural and might include textiles, beach nourishment, beach dewatering systems, sand bags, and speciality goods. Hard solutions entail the use of rock, concrete, and steel, which increases the risk of beachfront property damage owing to wave reflection off of such hard structures. The main advantage of hard solutions is their durability; they will not deteriorate over time.
Beach nourishment involves the artificial addition of sand to depleted beaches. This helps to replenish eroded soil and creates a more stable beach surface. The two main methods of beach nourishment are bulk deposition and raking. In bulk deposition, large quantities of sand are moved onto the beach from another location and spread out by heavy equipment. This method produces a smooth, even layer that can range in depth from a few feet to nearly the height of a building in an hour. Raking uses smaller amounts of material and tends to be used where there is no room for large vehicles on the beach. In this case, several hundred yards of wire mesh is stretched across the beach, and then small buckets of sand are placed on the wire to be carried away when the bucket is lifted up after being emptied at a water's edge.
Beach dewatering involves the removal of water from near the shoreline. This can be done to reduce the intensity of waves or remove some of the water so it can be released back into the ocean if necessary.
Methods of soft engineering
Soft engineering, which works with natural processes to safeguard the coastline, can be a more sustainable, long-term, and perhaps more cost-effective method to coastal defense. Importing beach-grade sediments to "top up" beaches is what beach replenishment entails. Natural sand accumulates along the shoreline and replaces material that was washed away during storms. Beach replenishment involves moving enough sand to fill in missing areas of the beach caused by ocean activity or urban development.
Beach nourishment is the process of adding new sand to parts of the coast where erosion is a problem. This can be done by removing some of the existing beach and depositing it elsewhere, or by pumping water over a bed of stones to raise the level of the sea far enough for more sand to wash ashore. Beach nourishment is often done as part of larger projects designed to protect other areas of the coast or enhance the local environment. It can also be done on a small scale to restore beach access for people who live near the shore.
Beacon hills are small embankments built into the shoreline to warn inland residents and travelers of approaching waves. The mounds usually rise about 10 feet above high tide level and contain lights or flags that can be seen for miles around. Beacons were first used in Britain to warn of enemy invasion. Today they serve another important role: protecting our coasts from destructive storm surges.
The natural environment is employed in soft engineering to assist prevent coastal erosion and river floods. A beach is used in soft engineering to absorb wave energy and decrease erosion. Beach reprofiling is utilized following a storm occurrence because the beach has been unevenly eroded. The goal of this process is to restore as much of the lost beach as possible.
Beach reprofiling is used extensively in California and along the Atlantic Coast. In Hawaii, beach reprofiling is used to maintain the flow of freshwater into the ocean. Along the Gulf Coast, beach reprofiling is used to repair beaches that are damaged by hurricanes.
This procedure involves removing debris from the beach, such as broken shells and old tires, and leveling off high spots. The sand is then refilled and plants are added to provide shade and attract wildlife. Although this activity appears simple, it requires expertise to avoid damaging the beach further or creating new problems. For example, if the work is done too quickly, there may not be enough organic material on the beach to form a stable base for new sand. This could cause more severe flooding during future storms.
Beach reprofiling is also called "beach nourishment" or "coastal management". These terms are used interchangeably with beach restoration in describing projects that involve adding new sand to create a flat surface and reduce flood damage.
They are often more long-term and sustainable, with less environmental effect. Soft engineering is classified into two kinds. This material replenishes beach or cliff material that has been eroded or washed away by longshore drift. The biggest benefit is that beaches act as a natural barrier against erosion and coastal floods. Without this protection, many areas would be destroyed much faster than they do actually get washed away by sea water. Beaches also provide valuable habitat for marine animals. In addition, they can enhance the appearance and value of surrounding property markets.
The other kind of soft engineering is soft landscaping. This includes all forms of earth-based architecture, from rock gardens to terraces to hillside planting. Earth-based architecture is a very sustainable form of development because it uses materials that would otherwise end up in landfill sites. It can also reduce energy costs due to its cooling effects during summer months and its ability to absorb sound.
Beach nourishment is when sand is added to existing beaches to prevent them from disappearing entirely. This is usually done by blowing sand from inland deposits to make new shoreline. Beach replenishment is when debris from other sources is used in place of fresh sand. For example, old docks and boats can be cut up and used as filler material on which to build new beaches. Shoreline restoration involves the removal of non-native plants that have been planted along our shores as an environmentally friendly alternative to cutting down trees.