The parts of Málaga most affected by rising sea levels

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
The parts of Málaga most affected by rising sea levels
San Julián Beach in Guadalmar will be one of the worst affected by climate change. Photo: Tyk / Wikimedia Commons

Spanish climate experts have warned of a significant rise in sea level in several municipalities within the province of Málaga, including the Vélez-Málaga and Guadalmar areas.


According to a recent report in the Official State Bulletin (BOE), sea level rises will be expected across the Andalusian province, but the areas around Vélez-Málaga and Guadalmar will be subject to severe increases by 2070. 

This comes after an April report by NASA found that sea levels have risen by five centimetres in Málaga province in the last three years and will rise by 50 centimetres by 2090.

The local government has already initiated several actions to try and alleviate the situation in Málaga and mitigate intense flooding.

According to expert predictions and government studies carried out between 1957 and 2022, coastal erosion has already begun and in the future, the coastline will begin where urbanisations, beach bars and restaurants currently stand.

This includes the hotel Parador del Campo de Golf de Málaga, as well as a wastewater pumping station.

Projected sea level increase in Málaga province in the next decades. Graph: NASA

The areas previously declared as flood-prone have also been updated and modified according to new data available.

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The municipality of Vélez-Málaga, capital of the Axarquía region of quaint white villages, will be one of the worst-affected places, particularly around Torre del Mar and Caleta de Vélez.

Experts say that this problem has been going on for decades and will only get worse. Since 1957, the municipality has lost a total of 222,107 square metres of sand, due to the increase in storms derived from climate change.

From 2020, with a peak in 2022, the area also experienced an extreme drought, meaning that contributions of river sediments on the beaches are almost non-existent. If this trend continues, and if conditions do not change, it's estimated that in 10 and 20 years, the stretch of coast on the left bank of the Vélez River will experience the greatest regression, with a maximum of 40 metres at 10 years and 70 metres at 20 years.

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In Guadalmar, the coastline is expected to advance between 80 and 226 metres, due to the increase in sea level by 31 centimetres, according to a study carried out by Tragsatec, a public engineering group. As a consequence, researchers say that the waves are changing and more storms are eroding the beaches.

A significant portion of this coastline has already been lost to the sea this century, but since 2016 the regression of the coast has been even greater. In total, 223,495 square metres of beach have been lost in almost 70 years.

It is estimated that, if conditions do not change, in 10 to 20 years, the stretch of coast between San Julián beach and the golf course will see the greatest regression.

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In order to deal with this issue, the Coastal Regulation has declared that no new title of occupation in the maritime-terrestrial public domain may be granted on land deemed to be at serious risk.

Existing constructions will be maintained as long as the sea does not reach them or there is a risk that it will. On land declared to be in a situation of serious regression, the government may carry out protection, conservation or restoration. For this, it may impose a special tax on people who benefit from these works.



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