Half the world’s beaches are set to disappear by the end of the century, warns a new study.

Climate change and soaring sea levels will wipe out sandy coasts around the globe – from Surfers’ Paradise in Queensland to St Tropez on France’s Mediterranean coast.

It could spell the end of the iconic seaside holiday to Honolulu, Copacabana, the Costa del Sol – and even humble Weymouth or Folkestone. The shock finding is based on an analysis of a database of satellite images of Earth collected over more than three decades.

They reveal how the planet’s shapeshifting shores have retreated in just 31 years – from 1984 to 2015.

Rising temperatures and more intense storms will speed up the process in the next few decades.

The world’s favourite coastal hotspots could shrink by more than 800 feet by 2100, warn scientists.

Study corresponding author Dr Michalis Vousdoukas, of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra in northern Italy, said: “The results indicate around 50 per cent of the world’s sandy beaches are at risk of severe erosion.”

Speaking from Italy, he said areas which have sandy beaches as tourist attractions are particularly vulnerable.

Dr Vousdoukas said: “The situation can become more critical for small communities highly reliant on tourism.”

They will need to react in order to preserve their sandy coasts – and the Dutch are leading the way. People in the low-lying Netherlands are experts in flood control – and are covering areas with sand dunes to create higher land.

Dr Vousdoukas said: “Countries like the Netherlands use sandy coast as the first line of protection against floods.”

His team used the historical trends to predict future dynamics under two different scenarios.

The study published in Nature Climate Change also examined how erosion from storms may change under climate change and impact beaches.

Dr Vousdoukas said: “Half of the world’s beaches could disappear by the end of the century under current trends of climate change and sea level rise.”

Some countries such as The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau face losing over 60% of their white sandy beaches – under both outlines.

Overall, Australia would be worst hit with around 7,500 miles (12,000 km ) of beach at risk.

Dr Vousdoukas said: “Canada, Chile, Mexico, China and the United States would also be greatly affected.” Sandy beaches occupy more than a third of the global coastline and have high value related to recreation, tourism and ecosystem services, he said.

They also provide natural protection from storms and cyclones. But erosion, sea level rises and changing weather threaten the coast’s infrastructure and people.

But their presence cannot be taken for granted as they are under constant threat from meteorological, geological and anthropogenic factors.

Dr Vousdoukas said: “A substantial proportion of the world’s sandy coastline is already eroding – a situation that could be exacerbated by climate change.

“Here, we show ambient trends in shoreline dynamics, combined with coastal recession driven by sea level rise, could result in the near extinction of almost half of the world’s sandy beaches by the end of the century.”

This would equate to an average global loss of 810 ft (247 metres) by the turn of the century.

Moderate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may prevent 40 percent of this loss.

This corresponds to a global average of around 138 ft (42 metres) of preserved sandy beach width by 2100.

Dr Vousdoukas said: “A substantial proportion of the threatened sandy shorelines are in densely populated areas – underlining the need for the design and implementation of effective adaptive measures.”

Sandy beaches are the most heavily used, and are among the most complex with the average water level changing constantly.

A third are in low-elevation coastal zones with population density exceeding 500 people per square kilometre.

The projections show one-in-three will be seriously threatened by erosion by 2050 – and up to nearly two thirds by 2100. Dr Vousdoukas said: “The global mean sea level has been increasing at an accelerated rate during the past 25 years and will continue to do so with climate change.”