New observations of increased coastal erosion indicate the influence of climate change

Results from a study of Roches Beach, Tasmania, show that during the 1970’s the beach changed from being stable to progressively receding. "What we have seen over the last few decades conforms with what we would expect to see as a beach begins to respond to global sea-level rise" says Chris Sharples, the principal researcher on the project. "The broader significance of this work is that it deepens our understanding of which beaches are responding earliest to sea-level rise by receding. This research will help us to identify other Australian beaches most at risk. This is crucial in developing strategies for adapting to sea-level rise on the Australian coast". The study was conducted using historical air and satellite photos at Roches Beach since 1957, combined with observations of beach processes. "Although progressive erosion at Roches Beach during the 1970’s to the 1990’s was still partly masked by natural rebuilding, it has now been in a persistently erosive state since at least 2001, and this is a significant departure from earlier conditions" said Chris Sharples. "The only known process which can explain the changed behaviour of Roches Beach in recent decades is sea-level rise". "While many Australian beaches are not yet obviously receding, more will begin to do so as a result of further sea-level rise. Roches Beach is one which is clearly receding now in response to sea-level rise. The results of this study therefore add to a growing understanding of which types of shorelines are most sensitive to sea-level rise" said Chris Sharples. Further research of this type around Australia will provide valuable information about the locations which are most vulnerable to sea-level rise. Download the full report ’Shoreline Change at Roches Beach, South-Eastern Tasmania, 1957 - 2010’. Photos and GIS files available on CD on request to (note: small admin fee will apply).

Authorised by the CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre October 2019.

The ACE CRC was established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

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