fragile coast

More than 700,000 Australian homes are vulnerable to rising sea levels, with up to $150 billion worth of homes, property and infrastructure at risk of seawater inundation, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts sea levels could rise between 0.18 metres and 0.59 metres over the next 100 years. But even a small rise will dramatically change Australia’s coastline, the department warns.

“It is estimated that erodible coasts will recede one metre for every one centimetre rise in sea level. Storm surges will exacerbate coastal erosion.” But even a small rise will dramatically change Australia’s coastline, the department warns. “It is estimated that erodible coasts will recede one metre for every one centimetre rise in sea level. Storm surges will exacerbate coastal erosion.”

Other experts believe sea levels could jump even more dramatically, rising several metres over the next century, inundating thousands of homes and threatening infrastructure.

The concern is that a threshold may soon be passed beyond which we’ll be committed to losing most or all of the Greenland ice sheet, said Professor Steffen of the Australian National University.

“This would lead to 6 metres of sea level rise (with enormous implications for Australia), although the time frame required to lose this amount of ice is highly uncertain, ranging from a century to a millennium or more.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Oct 2008

see also – just plain scary