Rising sea levels and changing storm patterns are likely to cause accelerated erosion of Australian coastlines. Although Australia has strong science capability to assess the risks associated with sea-level rise, waves and storm surge, there remains significant uncertainty around the amount and rate of coastal erosion under climate change, particularly where changes from depositional to erosional shorelines are likely to occur, and at scales relevant to management. There needs to be: a) a greater understanding of historical coastal erosion over decadal time scales and the influence of coastal vegetation and human infrastructure on this process; and b), improved linkages between models of coastal erosion and hazards under climate change, to improve predictions of future change and to guide on-ground climate adaptation actions.
The coastal erosion theme evaluates climate change sensitivity of the Victorian coast to erosion through quantifying actual historical shoreline change over a range of timescales. In doing so it allows for varying boundary conditions (e.g. sediment source and type, temporal vegetation successions) to be quantified. Such local conditions are often the primary determinates of landform sensitivity that cannot be accounted for in global or state-wide modelling, yet must be resolved in order to develop appropriate adaptation scenarios and estimates of landscape resilience under future climates.
Project 1: Citizen-Science Drones for Bayside Beach Habitat
Advances in drone technology provide a powerful, low-cost method to measure shoreline change. In this project we provide the equipment and training to enable local citizen scientists to monitor the beaches and dunes in Port Phillip Bay using repeated drone-based surveys.
This project is funded by DELWP’s Port Phillip Bay Fund.
Project 2: Shoreline erosion and little penguins
Coastal erosion has the potential to limit the movement of little penguins between feeding grounds at sea and burrows on land, to the detriment of the penguin population at Phillip Island, Victoria. This research examines the impact of recent erosion at Summerland Beach, the site of the world-famous Penguin Parade. The potential for post-storm vegetation recovery and sand accumulation is being evaluated using drones, sediment traps and anemometers.
This project was partially funded by a MSSI/School of Geography Research Grant.
Project 3: Natural vegetated habitats (sand dunes)
Sand dunes can mitigate coastal erosion and flooding during storms and tsunami and provide habitat for an increasingly rare and threatened flora. This project examines changes in vegetation cover on the open-coast of Victoria in relation to climate and management practises over the past century. The potential for different vegetation types to mediate dune erosion is also being measured.
This project is partially funded by a University of Melbourne ECR grant and a John McKenzie Fellowship.