Australia beaches at risk due to climate change

 Tuesday, September 21, 2021 



Some of the most pristine coastlines and amazing beaches in Australia could be washed away if action on climate change is not taken. Latest updated interactive mapping from Coastal Risk Australia reveals the damage that beaches like Byron Bay and Manly in NSW, as well as Bells Beach and Brighton in Victoria could experience if the world follows a high emissions pathway.

It comes as analysis from the Reserve Bank of Australia found house prices were expected to fall by 10 per cent or more in some areas by 2050 because of climate change. Global sea levels have already risen by 20cm (between 1901 and 2018) and the Australasia region, which includes New Zealand, has experienced even higher rates than the global average. More coastal flooding is expected as levels rise even further.

The latest predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report reveal further increases are largely locked in, with a rise of about 15cm to 30cm expected by around 2050. Dr James Goldie of the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub said in a statement that there is high confidence that the sea level will continue to rise beyond the end of this century. 

He mentioned that it will contribute to increased coastal flooding and shoreline retreat along sandy coasts throughout Australia. The changes beyond 2050 will largely depend on what the world does to bring down emissions. Based on the current climate pledges that countries have made, there could be 3-4C of warming by 2100 and this is likely to see sea levels rise by about 70cm.

If warming is kept to 2C, sea level rise could be as low as 50cm. If the world follows a high emissions path, levels could rise between 63cm and 101cm. The Coastal Risk Australia website, developed in partnership by FrontierSI and NGIS Australia, has based its mapping on a rise of 84cm, which is a mid-range value for the high emissions scenario.

Previously it used a figure of 74cm for its high emissions scenario. The update shows that a sea level rise of 84cm combined with a high tide could see Byron Bay beach and large areas around its waterways inundated. It also found homes and streets in suburbs in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania could be increasingly flooded. 

NGIS Australia executive director Nathan Eaton said the organisation wanted to communicate how the IPCC’s latest projections would impact Australian coastal communities. He mentioned that by 2050, sea level change of 15cm to 30cm will be unavoidable and hence coastal flooding will become worse during storm surges

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