Australia

New coastal maps identify future impacts of climate change in Australia

THE Australian Government has released new maps that identify the future impacts of climate change on some coastal regions in Australia. The government hopes the new maps will assist the community to prepare for sea level rise.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, said the maps identifying low-lying areas in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Hunter and Central Coast and South East Queensland demonstrated that it was essential to engage in early planning for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

"The Government recognises that coastal areas of Australia are a priority for adaptation action, with many communities vulnerable to impacts such as erosion and sea inundation," Mr Combet said.

The maps were developed in partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information and are available online. The maps illustrate potential risks to infrastructure and property as a result of sea level rise.

"The maps provide useful initial information to decision-makers to prepare for potential risks from rising sea levels in coastal areas," Mr Combet said.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information CEO, Dr Peter Woodgate, said the maps used the highest resolution elevation data currently available and were a powerful tool to help communicate potential risk.

The inundation maps show the potential long-term effects of climate change, highlighting three simple sea level rise scenarios for the period around the year 2100: low (0.5m), medium (0.8m) and high (1.1m).

The government said the low scenario is likely to be unavoidable while the medium scenario is in line with recent global emissions and observations of sea-level rise. The high scenario considers possible high-end risk.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) welcomed the release of the new maps.

ALGA President, Ms Genia McCafferey, said the maps provided a useful planning tool for communities, especially as Australia's coasts are becoming more populated.

"One of the greatest threats from climate change arises from rising sea-levels. This has two particular impacts that local government is concerned about, the threat of inundation as well as the impact of erosion from higher tides on property and vital infrastructure.

"Local government is committed to working in partnership with the Commonwealth to address climate change issues. Our role in land management, planning and community services means councils and shires need tools to help make long-term decisions in the best interests of our communities," Mr McCafferey said.

The maps are available via the OzCoasts website at <http://www.ozcoasts.org.au/>.

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