Planning for an Australian National Coastal Observatory: Monitoring and Forecasting Coastal Erosion in a Changing Climate

Planning for an Australian National Coastal Observatory: Monitoring and Forecasting Coastal Erosion in a Changing Climate
abstract from Coasts and Ports 2011 conference.

I.L. Turner1, I.D. Goodwin2, M.A. Davidson3, A.D. Short4, T.R.
Pritchard5, C Lane4, D.W. Cameron6, T MacDonald7, J Middleton8,
K.D. Splinter1
1 Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW Australia;
2 Marine Climate Risk Group, Environmental Science, Department of Environment and Geography, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW Australia
3 School of Marine Science and Engineering, University of Plymouth, Plymouth UK
4 CoastalComs Pty Ltd, Varsity Lakes, QLD Australia
5 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney NSW Australia
6 Warringah Council, Sydney, NSW Australia
7 Gosford City Council, Gosford, NSW Australia
8 School of Aviation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW Australia

A new, federally-funded research initiative has brought together an international team of researchers, state government, local government and private industry, to establish and rigorously test a practical approach to achieving baseline coastal monitoring at multiple ‘coastal reference sites’ around the Australian open coastline. Analogous and complementary to existing water-level and ocean wave monitoring programs that already exist around the Australian continent, the goal of this present effort is to initiate
and demonstrate the practical capability and application of sustained, automated and ongoing coastline monitoring in support of coastal research, coastal engineering and coastal management.
Initially, 10 ‘pilot’ coastal reference sites in New South Wales have been established. Intensive RTK-GPS beach surveying, image analyses, airborne LiDAR, bathymetric surveying and inshore wave monitoring are now under way. Over the next three years these data streams will be used to rigorously test and evaluate the applicability of existing and new coastal camera infrastructure to autonomously and routinely obtain measurements of local wave climate and shoreline variability and erosion at many sites around our coasts. The application of these data to underpin new developments in the
modelling and forecasting of seasonal to multi-decadal shoreline variability and change are being examined.
This new initiative is a proactive response to the October 2009 House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change report ‘Managing our Coastal Zone in a Changing Climate’, that identified the immediate need to better understand the present and potential future risks of coastal erosion, through monitoring and modelling. The study is addressing the knowledge gap between advancing Climate Change science, and the lagging development of our ability to quantify, assess and forecast coastal variability and change.
The outcomes of this three-year project are anticipated to be two-fold:

1. fast-track the testing of a new capability within Australia to provide automated, sustained and ongoing measurement of inshore wave climate and coastal erosion at many sites around our sandy coastlines,that if successful can circumvent the need for major investment in new monitoring infrastructure; and
2. use this capability to test and significantly advance a new methodologies for forecasting storm, seasonal and multi-year shoreline variability and change.

As the most developed and populous stretch of beaches around the Australian
continent, this ‘proof of concept’ study is initially focussed on the state of New
South Wales, providing a test-bed and template for a national-scale roll-out of
coastal monitoring and coastal-change forecasting around Australia.

source: Coasts and Ports 2011 – Extended Abstracts (pdf)