Beaches of Barcelona are disappearing

by Lorraine Williamson
The beaches of Barcelona are eroding

BARCELONA – For the past four to six years, on the north side, the beaches of Barcelona have narrowed by six to ten meters each year. This is apparent from a study by the Barcelona Área Metropolitana Barcelona (AMB) region. The report also lists some possible solutions. 

AMB‘s study shows, using successive aerial photos, how the coast at Montgat, Badalona and Sant Adrià on the north side of Barcelona has shrunk since 2017. A succession of storms hinders the natural recovery of the coast due to the deposition of sediment. Southerly storms in particular erode the beach and these storms have become more frequent in recent years.

The beaches of Barcelona are shrinking

As a result, the coast is slowly caving in. Furthermore, the facilities on the beach, such as stairs, decking and showers, are in danger. 

The port of Masnou also appears to have an influence on the current directions along the coast. Due to the current around the harbour, the sand is deposited at the harbour mouth and not on the beach and the beach erodes. 

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The AMB report mentions some measures for the restoration and conservation of the beaches. The most important is to spray on sand to compensate for the loss of sand. Another is to build breakwaters all along the coast, thus dividing the long coastline into segments. The breakwaters break the waves and protect stretches of beach. 

A kind of geotextile dykes can also be installed along the coast on the seabed. Geotextile is a permeable material that is often used to protect the soil in civil engineering. The geotextile does not harm the environment and can also be removed. The dikes dampen the waves and thus protect the coast. 

In the short term, the Barcelona region will move the sand deposits in front of the harbour mouth of Masnou. At Montgat, five breakwaters, each 250 m long, will be constructed and 600,000 m3 of sand will be deposited on the beach. In Badalona, ​​the region will annually replenish the beach with sand and in Sant Adrià a new breakwater will be built and they will spray 100,000 m3 of sand. 

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