New tool to help coastal managers deal with storm events

Researchers from Geoscience Australia have developed a new tool-kit that is helping coastal managers to better understand how beaches are impacted by storm events.

The Resilience to clustered disaster events at the coast: storm surge project, supported by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC has developed a comprehensive method for understanding the impact of storm events on the beach environment.

The project studied two Australian locations where coastal erosion is an ongoing management issue.

In the first case study, which looked at Old Bar on the central-north coast of New South Wales, erosion is ongoing and has led to property loss in recent years.

In the second case study, which looked at Adelaide's metropolitan beaches, beach erosion has been actively managed since the 1970s, and continues through Adelaide's Living Beaches Strategy.

The models and information from the Old Bar project allow coastal managers to evaluate the impact of an event and to better respond to severe storms or multiple storm events.

James Guy from South Australia's Department for Environment and Water highlighted the important role thisproject has played in building the body of knowledge around shoreline response to clustered storms.

"The new data, modelling tools and summary information for case study sites, are essential reference materials for coastal managers," he said.

He confirmed that the Department for Environment and Water will use the outcomes of this research to refine their annual beach replenishment program, which is used to maintain adequate storm buffers for the protection of infrastructure along the Adelaide coast.

The benefits and outcomes of this work have now been presented via a new Coastal Erosion StoryMap, which sets out the key steps required to understand coastal erosion in situations where storm clusters are recognised as a possible driver. . The methods described can be applied at any other location nationwide, where sufficient data is available, supporting decision making to protect valuable coastal assets.

The Coast Erosion StoryMap is available here.

Photo: The actively eroding dune face at Old Bar, as seen in June 2015.

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