Australian news, and some related international items

Climate change: Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road at risk from sea level rise

Great Ocean Road at risk from surging sea , Canberra Times, By Royce Millar, 10 January 2019 Key sections of the Great Ocean Road are at risk of being washed away, raising safety fears and calls for the Andrews government to reroute parts of the world-recognised tourist road.

New studies of dramatic beach erosion around Apollo Bay over the last two years highlight the mounting problem of erosion, flooding and sea level rise along Victoria’s coast.

 In a report to the State government released exclusively to The Age, leading coastal geomorphologist Neville Rosengren and engineer Tony Miner recommend urgent action to protect the foreshore of Mounts Bay next to Apollo Bay, after major erosion there in 2017.

They warn the national heritage-listed road could be “compromised” within five years.

A second report on erosion at Apollo Bay by engineers GHD also recommends the eventual “realignment” of the road outside township areas at Apollo Bay. It notes that five metres of erosion at Apollo Bay beach during a June 2018 storm put the road “at risk”.

The studies point to erosion at critical levels at the very time the state’s south-west is hosting ever greater numbers of visitors, now more than five million a year.

Similar problems are being faced along the wider coast, from Port Fairy in the south-west to Inverloch and the Ninety Mile Beach and Lakes Entrance in the south-east and east……..

findings raise the prospect that rising seas due to climate change are now proving a real problem for vulnerable coastal locations.

Mr Rosengren said rising sea levels contributed to the erosion at Mounts Bay.

“You’re witnessing the effects of a complex of processes of which sea level is one,” he said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) current projection for sea level rise, based on high emissions, ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, is almost 90 centimetres by the year 2100, relative to an average sea level for the period 1986-2005.

That projection will be updated, most likely upwards, in the IPCC’s special oceans report due for release this year.

Other peer-reviewed studies have forecast a much steeper rise in sea level by 2100.

……… While possible, realignment of the road would be difficult and expensive at Mounts Bay because the Barham River runs along the landward side of the road, making the area also susceptible to flooding.

…….. A quandary for all concerned is that sea walls of any form will alter the character of a coastline renowned for its rugged, natural beauty. Sea walls also interfere with the coast’s ecology and its ability to naturally replenish itself.

Bankrolled by public donations, the 243-kilometre Great Ocean Road was built by World War I veterans between 1919 and 1932 as a memorial to soldiers killed in the war, and to open the south-west coast to tourists and daytrippers. It was built as close to the ocean as possible.

……… A Victorian Department of Environment Land Water and Planning spokesperson said accounting for sea level rise was now “embedded” in the Victorian planning system.

The Age has sought an interview and comments from federal Environment Minister Melissa Price about the Morrison government’s policies on, and plans for, sea level rise.

January 12, 2019 - Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria

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