Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine

Coastal erosion Ukraine

The Ukraine coast

The Ukraine coastline is 2,700 km long and includes the northern and western shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The coastline may be divided into 8 areas (1):

  1. The northern part of the Danube Delta (75 km): a system of sand and silt bars in an expanding coastline (3-40 m/year, up to 130-180 m/year locally)
  2. The north-western firth area (355 km): lagoons separated from the sea by sand bars, erosion rates up to 3 m/year)
  3. The Dnieper-Karkinita area (660 km): alluvial-marine depositional plain
  4. The West Crimean area (275 km): erosional coast and highly erodible rocks; most popular tourist areas with many beaches; up to 70% of the Crimean west coast is suffering from significant erosion; formerly magnificent sand beaches are being replaced by a ‘stone chaos’, because of unauthorized coastal protection works
  5. The South Crimean area (350 km): mainly solid rocks, up to 50% of the coastline affected by landslides
  6. The Kerch area (320 km): numerous curved bays and capes, mainly made up of reef limestones; some 20% of the coastline consists of bays separated by sand/shell and pebble/sand bars; a significant part of the coast is subject to landslides
  7. The Arabat-Sivash area (180 km), in the western part of the Sea of Azov: sandy Arabatskaya spit more than 120 km long; low and flat shoreline
  8. The North-Azov area (480 km): both parts that accumulate and erode; also landslides

Storm waves from the south, southwest and southeast have the greatest impact; waves can reach up to 4-7 m near the coast (1). During the last 60 years the Black Sea water level has risen by about 15 cm; the current average rate of sea level rise is 0.25 cm/year, of which 0.1 cm/year is due to land subsidence and the rest is due to an increase in fresh water input that exceeds the sea water evaporation rate (4). Coastal retreat under the influence of sea level rise is estimated to be 0.2-0.3 m per 1 cm sea level rise (5).    

Vulnerabilities Ukraine

The highest erosion rates (on average 5-8 m/year) are on landslide eroding shores in cliffs made of clay rocks, typical for the north-western Black Sea coast and the Sea of Azov. The lowest erosion rate was a few centimetres per year, observed on strong limestone conglomerates, sandstones or other rock coasts, on the southern Crimean coast. Beach erosion has been accelerated by human impact (6): ‘hard’ coastal protection works, near-coastal sand and pebble mining, dredging, river regulation and dam building.

2.7% of the Ukrainian population lives less than 10m above sea level (2). Homes as well as industrial premises, arable land and tourist sites are already experiencing erosion problems. An increase in short, intense rainfall events combined with projected rises in sea level mean erosion could be an escalating issue for the Ukrainian coast, particularly after 2050 (3).

Adaptation strategies

‘Hard’ coastal protection works include seawalls, groins, breakwaters, transverse dikes. Also beach nourishments have been carried out (1).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Ukraine.

  1. Goryachkin (2013)
  2. Cenacchi (2008), in: Met Office Hadley Centre (2010)
  3. Alcamo et al. (2007), in: Met Office Hadley Centre (2010)
  4. Goryachkin and Ivanov (2006), in: Goryachkin (2013)
  5. Goryachkin (2011), in: Goryachkin (2013)
  6. Goryachkin (2010), in: Goryachkin (2013)