Risk of Coastal Inundation

Risk of Coastal Inundation

Almost 250,000 homes, now worth up to A$63 billion, will be “at risk of inundation” by the end of the century, under “worst-case but plausible” predictions of rising sea levels. Minister Penny Wong also announced the creation of a seven-member Coasts and Climate Change Council to be chaired by Professor Tim Flannery.

Lenore Taylor, National Correspondent in The Australian (14 November 2009):

Almost 250,000 homes, now worth up to A$63 billion, will be “at risk of inundation” by the end of the century, under “worst-case but plausible” predictions of rising sea levels.

The study — released ahead of the crucial Senate vote on Labor’s emissions trading scheme — modelled the effect of a 1.1m sea-level rise on cities and towns around Australia.

This is a higher level than the 79cm end-of-century rise predicted by the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but in the mid-range of some subsequently published research.

It found between 157,000 and 247,000 homes “at risk of inundation” — meaning they would be permanently flooded or frequently flooded by storm surges or king tides — with hospitals, water-treatment plants and other public buildings also found to be at risk.

Even Sydney airport would be at “increased risk” of inundation, according to the study, written by the Department of Climate Change with input from CSIRO, Geosciences Australia and scores of academics.

The study — which models possible risks down to township and local government areas complete with aerial photographs of towns showing the possible inundation — appears timed to give the public a sharp reminder of the possible dangers of climate change.

It also increases pressure on the opposition as the government’s ETS bill is brought back to parliament next week.

It found NSW had “the greatest exposure”, with between 40,800 and 62,400 homes at risk, followed by Queensland (35,900 to 56,900), Victoria (27,600 to 44,600), South Australia (25,200 to 43,000) and Western Australia (18,700 to 28,000).

Within each state, it identified the local government areas where property was most “at risk” — for NSW, Lake Macquarie, Wyong, Gosford, Wollongong, Shoalhaven and Rockdale; for Queensland, Moreton Bay, Mackay, the Gold Coast, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast; and for Victoria, Kingston, Geelong, Wellington and Port Phillip.

The study says that “based on the recent science 1.1m was selected as a plausible value for sea-level rise for this risk assessment. It is important to note that the purpose of a risk assessment is to identify areas of risk and therefore plausible worse-case scenarios need to be considered.”

Andrew Ash, director of the CSIRO climate-change adaption flagship, said the 1.1m sea-level rise was “certainly plausible”.

“As things stand, the only variation will be exactly when we reach that level,” Dr Ash said.

Given the study was meant to help government planning decisions, it was therefore “both plausible and appropriate” to model a 1.1m rise.

As well as the threat of inundation, the study calculates how many buildings are under threat from “soft” erodable shorelines.

Source: www.theaustralian.com.au


Government report:


New report finds coastal communities

at risk from climate change


A new report mapping the impacts of climate change on Australia’s coastal communities has been released today by the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong.


The report – Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts – is the first continental scale mapping of residential buildings at risk from climate change. It also details the risks to coastal infrastructure, services and industry in Australia as a result of climate change.


Senator Wong said many coastal communities were vulnerable to impacts such as sea inundation and erosion. The report shows between 157,000 to 247,600 existing residential buildings will be at risk from sea inundation by 2100, under a sea-level rise scenario of 1.1m.


“This report paints a picture of the widespread impacts of climate change on Australia’s coastlines, and the risks posed to buildings located in coastal areas,’’ Senator Wong said.


“The science tells us our climate is changing faster than first projected and the impacts are likely to be more severe as sea-level rises and extreme storms and floods become more frequent.


“These changes are already happening and we cannot afford to ignore the findings of this report.’’


Major coastal infrastructure that underpins our economy, such as airports and ports, will also be at risk from climate change, the report shows.


“Sea-level rise, more intense cyclones and ocean acidification will potentially increase the capital and operating costs of ports quite significantly by mid century,’’ Senator Wong said.


“A number of airports are also located in low-lying areas in the coastal zone, and are at risk of inundation in the coming century.’’


Senator Wong said the report showed the need to address and start planning for the impacts of climate change.


“Every day we delay action on climate change, we increase the cost,’’ Senator Wong said.


“This report shows the need to reduce the carbon pollution that is causing climate change, which is why we are determined to pass the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.


“It also shows that Australia must plan to adapt to the climate change we can’t avoid.’’


Senator Wong announced the creation of a seven-member Coasts and Climate Change Council (membership list attached), to be chaired by Professor Tim Flannery.


The Council will engage with the community and stakeholders and advise the Government in the lead up to a Coastal Climate Change Forum, to be held in early 2010. This Forum will bring together all levels of government to develop a strategy for coastal adaptation.

Professor Flannery said the report showed the extent of the climate change challenge facing Australia, and the need for all levels of government to take action now.

“Our coasts are already being impacted by climate change,” Professor Flannery said.

“We can no longer ignore the need to reduce emissions and manage the challenges that climate change poses to our way of life.”

 “This report highlights the need for planned, coordinated action to help manage the risks,’’ Senator Wong said.


“State and local governments, business and communities will all need to play a major part to prepare for unavoidable climate change impacts.’’


Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts – A First Pass Assessment is available from the Department of Climate Change web site.







Chairman, Professor Tim Flannery – Faculty of Science, Macquarie University


Ms Sam Mostyn – expert in sustainability and risk management


Mr Ron Clarke – Mayor of Gold Coast


Ms Paddi Creevey – Mayor of Mandurah


Professor Barbara Norman – Foundation Chair, Professor of Urban Planning, Faculty of Business and Government, University of Canberra


Professor Bruce Thom – President, Australian Coastal Society


Geoff Lake – President, Australian Local Government Association


Source: www.climatechange.gov.au

Leave a Reply