Coasts, deltas and small islands

Thread: Adaptation at the edge

Parallel Session 1.3.5 | 2.00pm – 3.30pm | 29th June 2010
Parallel Session 2.3.5 | 11.00am – 12.30pm | 30th June 2010

Poster Session 1.6 | 6.15pm – 7.30pm | 29th June 2010


  • Robert Nicholls, University of Southampton, UK
  • Jon Barnett, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Tim Smith, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Warming to draw widespread attention to this important issue. More than two decades of assessments have reinforced the high potential impacts in coastal areas due to climate change and the need for long-term adaptation to avoid these impacts. Deltas and small islands are consistently identified as being especially vulnerable through the 21st Century. While sea-level rise dominates the assessments, the potential for other impacts is appreciated with factors such as the possibility of more intense tropical storms, or the coastal consequences of ocean acidification being two important drivers. Importantly, sea-level rise is relatively unresponsive the climate mitigation and there is a so-called ‘commitment to sea-level rise’ and hence a commitment to adapt to these changes or face the resulting impacts.

This session will draw together papers that assess the potential impacts of climate change on coastal areas, adaptation strategies to deal with these issues, and how responding to climate change can be integrated in wider coastal management. The policy needs are varied and include detailed local assessments to plan detailed responses, national assessments to formulate national policy and priorities, and international assessments which compare impacts and vulnerability to support intergovernmental negotiations on the climate issue. Assessments at all these scales are welcome.

Abstracts for Speakers – Session 1:

Heading for the walls: rising sea and declining options in South East Queensland» Retreat: designing policies and pathways for resilient coastal development» From coping to managed retreat- a transition approach for adapting to sea level rise and increased flood frequency» The devil and the deep Blue Sea: Legal Responses to Climate Change Risks in Australian Coastal Communities» Adapting coastal policies and instruments to climate change: a case study from South East Queensland, Australia» Coastal governance in Western Australia: mapping response capacity to climate adaptation» PHOTOS: Session 1.3»

Abstracts for Speakers – Session 2:

Household level adaptation: saline intrusion and migration in the mekong delta, Vietnam» Climate change adaptation in mangrove systems» Integrating Climate Change Adaptation and Coastal Zone management: A Capacity driven approach for the Republic of kiribati» Environmental migration from small island states: why islanders should not be seen as 'canaries in the coalmine'» Barriers to Effective Climate-Change Adaptation on Islands» Climate Change, Coastal Change, and Adaptation on a Low-Lying Coral Cay: A Case Study from masig, Torres Strait, Australia» PHOTOS: Session 2.3»

Abstracts for Posters:

Coastal retreat contribution to carbon cycle of Arctic Ocean on example of yamal coast, kara Sea» National Wind Risk Assessment – an overview of research activities» Managing sea level rise and coastal hazards in an era of climate change, Wellington region, New Zealand» Three Things to Consider When Estimating Allowances for Sea-Level Rise» The value of time-series data to track climate-driven changes in coastal systems and use in the provision of policy-relevant evidence and advice» Effects of Changing Climate and Sea Ice Extent on dynamics of Russian Arctic Coasts» Dynamic Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea-level Rise: When and Where to Adapt?» Adaption Strategies arising from Clarence City Council's Climate Change Impacts on Clarence Coastal Areas Report» Climate adaptation information from digital Elevation models (dEm)» Data in support of climate change adaptation in the Pacific»
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N Abel, R Gorddard and B Harman

A sea level rise of up to a metre or more around Australia by 2100 is plausible, and the frequency and intensity of storms may increase. Almost 9000 residential buildings are already estimated by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to be within 110 m of erodible shore in South East Queensland (SEQ).

The draft Queensland Coastal Plan, and draft SEQ Climate Change Management Plan seek to protect people and property from the hazards of sea level rise and storm surges. The plans aim to maintain natural physical coastal processes, preserve areas of high ecological significance, conserve terrestrial, wetland and marine ecological values, preserve coastal scenery, and enhance public coastal access. This is in tune with international shifts in policy away from costly built defences and towards the maintenance of natural processes for their ecological and recreational values, the defence they provide against storm surges, and their adaptability to changing sea levels. However, Federal and State governments favour population increase.

If population growth in Queensland increases along with climatic change, the future adaptability of the coast will depend on precluding or removing development from low lying land to provide space for the future spread of dunes, beaches and wetland vegetation as the sea rises.

An array of problems make it difficult for the coastal and regional planning system to implement the aspirations of the Queensland Coastal Plan and the SEQ Climate Change Management Plan. The net private benefits from houses on low-lying sites at the coast are realisable now, but the net social benefits of excluding it are in the future, so State and local governments are pressured by public demand and development lobbyists to increase the area zoned for urban development. The planning minister can and does rezone undeveloped land to allow urban development against the objections of councils, and against the population policies of some councils. The local government development approval process meanwhile allows incremental occupation of land that could be set aside for sea level rise because: 1.) biophysical thresholds of potential concern (e.g. the balance between erosion and deposition of sand) are not specified in Local Government Planning Schemes, so each approval is unrelated to changes in proximity to thresholds; 2.) councils that refuse technically valid development applications can be taken to court by applicants; and 3.) councils can be liable for the consequent decrease in property values if they re-zone land, even if risks to properties have increased.

Different sections of the Queensland coast are at different stages of development, the less urbanised having more intact coastal ecosystems, therefore more options and greater adaptability, but the trend is towards declining options and adaptability as incremental development proceeds. As the number of people living in vulnerable places increases, and the value of property there grows, so governments will be increasingly likely to succumb to political pressure and build defences against storm surges regardless of the net public benefit of doing so. If land is not set aside for colonization by coastal ecosystems in anticipation of sea level rise, therefore, built defences will become the dominant strategy.

We propose that measures to enable the regional and coastal planning system to respond pro-actively to sea level rise should:

  1. allow for irreducible uncertainties including rates and amounts of sea level rise, storm intensity, erosion rates and population changes e.g. property rights, development approvals, zoning could be linked to pre-specified sea level heights;
  2. redistribute the benefits, costs, risks and uncertainties of coastal development, residence and governance. Measures that place the risks on the property owner or developer would clarify uncertainties about the responsibilities of local and State governments and reduce the attractiveness of lower lying land;
  3. be developed in consultation with the banking and insurance industries. Banks will be reluctant to provide mortgages for properties that will be at risk during the repayment period. High insurance costs or refusal of cover would be a significant disincentive for coastal development, not least because banks would become less willing to provide mortgages for properties at risk;
  4. operate as negative feedbacks, so that the closer the system approaches an unwanted threshold, the stronger the feedback becomes e.g. zoning that changes with sea level.

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R Gorddard, N Abel and A Ryan
CSIRO, Australia

Sea levels have been rising at an increasing rate and climate scientists expect this pattern to continue into the foreseeable future. A rise of 1.1m by 2100 is plausible. In Australia alone, this would put an estimated $63 billion worth of dwellings at potential risk. Future development will increase the number of assets at risk – over half a million additional houses are being planned for in coastal South East Queensland by 2031.

While the provision of coastal defences may be popular with property owners, a long-term consequence of defending coastlines is that further development is encouraged in areas that are increasingly at risk and can only be protected over the long term with ever more expensive structures. Alternatively, a strategy of continual retreat of coastal settlements from rising seas can result in inherently safer and more resilient patterns of development. Besides moving communities out of harms way, planned retreat can continue to utilise coastal dunes, mangroves, and other coastal ecosystems as natural defences against storms. Natural defences offer inexpensive coastline protection, while also providing conservation and scenic values.

As the sea level rise ecosystems are able to shift landward as long as space is available. A process of planned retreat that maintains space for coastal ecosystems may therefore be appropriate for many coastal settlements. However landward movement of coastal ecosystems is likely to bring them into increasing competition for space with development in the very circumstances where they are valued for amenity and protection.

Current regulatory frameworks for coastal development are not designed to deal with rising seas, so do not have effective mechanisms to enable retreat. At its core, a regulatory framework that enables retreat is simple: it must specify and enforce conditions under which property must be abandoned. However the challenges in designing and implementing institutions that enable planned retreat are substantial. We describe three major challenges then discuss a research program that aims to enable society to implement effective retreat policies.

The first challenge is the nature of the decision problem. The cost of a retreat policy depends on the value of the built assets that will be lost under planned retreat. The decisions to invest in these assets are made by people with diverse values and time horizons, over long time frames and under significant uncertainty about sea level rise and its impact on the coast. Second, the magnitude and distribution of the potential losses means social justice and fairness will be important criteria for evaluation of any policy. This will be an issue both for the support for the policy by society in general, and for the behaviour and acceptability of those directly affected. Compensation and insurance mechanisms are likely to be required and this raises questions about unintended incentives for perverse behaviour by investors, failing or missing insurance markets, and the role of government in managing these issues. Finally any retreat policy will have to mesh with the complex existing social institutions for deciding appropriate land use. These institutions include property rights systems that have evolved to enforce strong permanent individual rights under the assumption that land is permanent, and planning systems that have a complex and uncertain interface with property rights systems.

Our research approach focuses on: 1) Understanding the psychology of retreat and individual decision making under uncertainty and over long time frames. For example, perceptions of risk can be heavily influenced by recent and salient events, and regularly people undervalue distant future events. We expect that the response of individuals to retreat policies will therefore be complex and diverse, and in some cases inappropriate. Research can shed light on how people psychologically react to retreat policy options. 2) Designing and evaluating options for retreat policies. Polices such as rolling easements have been extensively analysed in theory. Surveys and experimental economics methods can be used to evaluate whether key assumptions of policies hold in practice. 3) Understanding and enabling policy transitions. This involves identifying barriers to regulatory change, building the capacity of communities and governments to change, and designing pathways for institutional change that enable low risk learning and adaptive management.
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J Lawrence, G Hart, A Reisinger and R Chapman
New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

This paper discusses a transition approach to assessing options and feasibility of managed retreat; and the tools needed for its implementation.

Projections for New Zealand’s two most significant direct climate change impacts by 2100 indicate an up to fourfold increase in flood frequency, and sea level rise of 18-59cm or more, depending upon the emissions scenario and response of the polar ice sheets to warming (IPCC 2007; MfE 2009). Adaptation to climate-related impacts in New Zealand has to date focused primarily on coping strategies (such as emergency management, stop banks and sea walls, raising minimum floor levels, accepting more frequent localised flooding, and soft vegetative buffers), rather than a more strategic approach to reduction or avoidance of harm from such events (PSConsulting and David Hamilton and Associates, 2007; Lawrence and Allan, 2009).

Sea level rise will continue for centuries even with stringent mitigation (IPCC 2007). Flood frequency is likely to increase at least in the medium term. It is therefore likely that physical protection and adaptation measures aimed at coping with increased physical hazards will eventually become insufficient or ineffective. The high costs associated with community and infrastructure impacts near the coast and on flood plains will mean a range of response options are likely to be required in the coming decades, but ultimately, retreat from the most exposed coastal and flood-prone areas will be unavoidable. Costs are potentially reducible if managed response strategies to reduce exposure to flooding and inundation are adopted early.

Managed retreat has been suggested as an important long-term response to climate change but has not been researched thoroughly in the New Zealand context (Environment Waikato 2006). Examples from communities that are already exposed to hazards that have proven difficult to manage, can offer some analogues for developing a general transition approach to managed retreat, and indicate the extent to which this could actually reduce the vulnerability of different population groups and communities at risk from sea level rise and river flooding. The response options discussed include consideration of ‘worst case’ sea level rise scenarios based on observations and projections since the last IPCC assessment (e.g. Pfeffer et al.2008; Vermeer and Rahmstorf, 2009; Velicogna, 2009), including projections beyond 2100 (e.g. Delta Commission 2008).

Transitioning to and implementing a managed retreat policy will need to deal with several interlinked time horizons as well as physical and socio-economic inertia. Challenges include (a) developing a clearer framework for understanding the limits of current adaptive coping strategies, (b) formulating and gaining community acceptance of managed retreat as a policy option, (c) identifying the decision points for introducing managed retreat policies, (d) the time required for managed retreat policies to deliver effective changes, (e) the time needed for any required institutional changes such as legislation, plans, rules and their effective practice, (f) the lifetime of infrastructure and existing-use rights that could determine the economic and environmental costs and benefits as well as social and cultural implications of managed retreat.

It is unclear at this stage how a range of cost-effective, equitable and acceptable responses to increased flood and sea level risk might unfold temporally and how a transition to managed retreat might be implemented. This paper explores the available regulatory and non-regulatory tools for managing a transition, from coping strategies and first-round physical protection to managed retreat, and discusses their adequacy and necessary policy and regulatory framework, guidance and potential best practice information. The likely barriers to managed retreat and possible thresholds that could trigger decision-makers to move from coping to managed retreat are also explored. We are currently in the process of further developing and testing this approach in a specific context, the results of which will be presented in a subsequent paper.
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J McDonald and P England
Griffith University, Australia

Australians have a love affair with their coastline. 85% of the population lives in the coastal zone (NRMMC 2006). As climate change brings increased threats from sea-level rise, storm-surge, erosion and coastal flooding, the protection of coastal communities and property has become a national priority. Yet management of Australian’s coastal zone has a history of fragmentation, poor coordination and inconsistency across jurisdictions (Hunt et al 2007, House of Representatives 2009).

Local and state government agencies with development authority over coastal areas face an invidious choice. Do they risk virtually certain legal challenge, by constraining development rights in order to protect against climate change risks, or do they chance the less-certain but potentially-costlier risk of extensive liability to future landowners, by continuing to allow development on coastal land (McDonald 2007)? The fear of future liability for climate change impacts is hampering coastal development in many vulnerable locations (Gurran et al 2008). Without clear guidance on what is appropriate for projected risks, local authorities are reluctant to approve new activities (House of Reps 2009, McDonald 2010).

Five Australian states have developed coastal policies or planning instruments that require development authorities to consider the impacts of climate change on new development. Most of these documents impose binding legal obligations on local government to allow for a sea level rise of either 0.8 or 0.9m by 2100, with additional allowance for the effect of storm tides (England & McDonald 2009). Where these policies remain merely advisory, there is an alarming difference in implementation and uptake at the local level. Some local authorities have declined to follow the guidance (Smith 2010), while others are seeking to impose even stricter controls on coastal development (Byron Shire Council 2009). New South Wales is legally entrenching the right of property owners to protect their own properties against coastal erosion (NSW Government 2009). With such a wide range of local and state approaches, and uncertain legal implications of each choice, there is growing pressure to develop nationally-consistent guidelines (House of Reps 2009).

Courts in four Australian states have considered the relevance of climate change projections to development assessment processes (England & McDonald 2009, Bonyhady 2010). These cases must all be understood in their own specific contexts, but all point to the importance of strong statutory and spatial planning provisions that specify climate change impacts as a relevant consideration. Courts have upheld the decision of councils to refuse development consent in places where a clear coastal management plan is in place and have overturned approvals where councils have failed to give appropriate consideration to climate change impacts.In many cities around the Australian coast, the options for safeguarding against sea-level rise are more limited because historical development has created a massive infrastructure legacy in vulnerable coastal locations (Thom et al, 2010). In these places, councils and state agencies must find ways of minimising future exposure through technological approaches to coastal fortification and restrictions on redevelopment, or craft mechanisms by which to fund the costs of repair, retrofit, relocation and retreat arising from past decisions. These choices involve careful assessment of the costs of constructing and maintaining such works, as faulty or poorly maintained structures that cause property damage are likely to create their own liabilities (Byron Shire Council v Vaughan 2010).
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M Sano, J Mustelin, N Lazarow and R Tomlinson
Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, Griffith University, Australia

Coastal areas are highly dynamic systems, which are predicted to be adversely affected by climate change. This has a special resonance in Australia where over 90% of the national population reside in the coastal zone (Hennessy et al. 2007). It comes therefore as no surprise that climate change adaptation as a policy issue is currently gaining more prominence across all three levels of government in Australia. South East Queensland (SEQ) is one of the most developed and fastest growing coastal regions in Australia, and is considered a priority area for climate adaptation research by the Australian Government. Coastal areas of SEQ are extremely vulnerable to the effect of sea level rise, changing wave climate and extreme storms, considering that most of the population, which is expected to grow by 60% in the next 20 years, is concentrated in proximity to the beach front, canals, estuaries and tidal entrances, or within a coastal floodplain.

The coastal management framework applicable to the SEQ region includes a range of policies, plans and schemes issued by the three tiers of government. While the federal government offers informal guidance to the States in the implementation of their coastal policies, the Queensland Government is responsible for natural resource management, including coastal zone management. Local councils are then responsible of integrating the state coastal policies into local government instruments including corporate strategies, planning schemes and shoreline management plans.

This has implications for both the development and discharge of coastal management policies and plans, which now also require sea level rise and the possibility of increased natural hazards to be addressed (e.g. Government of New South Wales, 2009; Government of Queensland, 2009a, 2009b; Victorian Coastal Council, 2008).

Anticipatory adaptation is especially deemed effective as a means to respond to the unavoidable impacts (Carter 2007, Hallegatte, 2009) and this requires a clear understanding where liabilities and responsibilities lie in adaptation (Tomlinson and Helman 2006). To date there has been limited discussion about what kind of adaptation and adaptation strategies the different levels of government are proposing and what the synergies and possible differences are in practice. The federal government does not have jurisdiction in most coastal areas, so the options available for to them are either financial (funding adaptation schemes) or informative (funding scientific studies), but not likely regulatory action. This is different for State and local government who have increased regulatory responsibility and diminishing financial capacity.

This research therefore provides a critical approach in examining the current coastal governance instruments in Australia and to identify the synergies, differences and responsibilities between the adopted approaches at multiple scales. The focus lies on examining the coastal policy instruments at national, state, regional and local levels, while trying to understand the practical implications of the policies for specific local areas with high vulnerability such as Palm Beach on the Gold Coast in SEQ (Lazarow et al. 2008). Integrated coastal management is also discussed in terms of how climate change adaptation could be mainstreamed into current practices.

The study will be advanced using a multi-method approach (Norgaard, 1989) with a focus on identifying the nature of suggested adaptation strategies (anticipatory in particular) within policies. These are then compared with local level findings addressing place-specific vulnerability and the possible conflicts between public vs. private adaptation strategies to the unavoidable climate change impacts in coastal areas, as coastal changes are already issues of social justice (Cooper and McKenna, 2008). The research also draws on on-going discussions occurring in Australia regarding local government responsibility in providing public protection of private properties in terms of sea level rise and increased coastal erosion and the nature of different adaptation strategies being discussed.

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L Stocker
Curtin University, Australia

The Southwest of Western Australia contains some of the fastest growing local government areas in Australia; they offer great sea change appeal combined with relative proximity to Perth. This area is also a significant national biodiversity hotspot. However it exhibits extreme vulnerability to sea level rise, storm events and saltwater inundation. Since the 1970s there has been a discernible general shift from strong central government as the key decision-makers to a system of governance that includes: the fragmentation and sharing of responsibility and power; the decentralisation and ‘agentisation’ of policy formulation and implementation; an increasing reliance on partnerships, networks; and new ways engaging the public and stakeholders about projects, plans and policies. Governance of the coastal zone includes the institutional authorities, processes, and procedures used for guiding strategic and key operational decisions about the coastal zone. Governance in the coastal zone now comprises not only complexly interacting levels of formal government (Federal, State and Local) but also development commissions, NGOs, Indigenous Native Title holders and other stakeholders including scientists. There are concerns about multiple jurisdictions, lack of integrated management and continuing controversy on major developments. With a view to enhancing the capacity for coastal adaptation, we mapped the components of coastal governance in WA, identifying and analyzing the potential for improvements in institutional arrangements, policy-making and planning. We used the Lisbon Principles for sustainable governance of coasts and oceans against which to assess WA coastal governance: responsibility, scale-matching, precaution, adaptive management, full cost allocation and participation. We also assessed coastal governance against determinants of adaptive capacity.
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O Dun
School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, Australia

Since the release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, changing attitudes have resulted in a general acceptance of climate change at a global level and have subsequently resulted in a heightened interest and shift in discourse about the relationship between environmental changes and human migration. There has been a shift in discourse which recognises that greater research and policy attention needs to be given to environmental causes of migration (as opposed to a focus on avoiding discussions on, or denial of, the “environmental refugee” problem). Additionally, increasing emphasis is being placed on recognising the potential of migration as an adaptation strategy for individuals and communities directly impacted by climate change with leading climate change adaptation scholars stating that, “migration may be one response of people whose livelihoods are undermined by climate change” (Barnett and Adger 2007:643).

Viet Nam is a country prone to water or water-related disasters which are thought to be increasing due to the influence of climate change. According to the results of a World Bank study released in February 2007, Viet Nam will be one of the countries most severely impacted due to potential sea-level rise. A scenario of a 1 metre sea-level rise by the year 2100, modelled by the Queensland-based International Centre for Environmental Management, showed that 85% of the sea level inundation affecting Viet Nam would affect 12 provinces and cover approximately 12,000 km2 (30%) of the Mekong Delta resulting in an increase of salinity in surface waters and groundwater of the Delta. Climate change aside, saline intrusion is the main factor already limiting agricultural production in the Mekong Delta region with dry season salinity currently affecting close to 45% of land. Activities upstream in the Mekong River such as the diversion and extraction of water for dry season irrigation and industrial purposes as well as the construction of hydro-power dams on the river mainstream and tributaries can also worsen the effects of saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta. Understanding current responses to salinity intrusion could provide insights for future adaptation strategies to adjust to the impacts of sea level rise.

This paper focuses on household level adaptation of people living in areas prone to saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam. Specifically, this paper will present preliminary field research results of a PhD study examining whether salinity intrusion and its related impacts in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam are factors which can trigger migration and population relocation. Initial findings from qualitative social science research conducted during April to June 2010 investigating coping mechanisms of households in a saline-prone commune of Cai Nuoc district, Ca Mau Province will be provided. This district is naturally prone to salinity intrusion but there is evidence of increasing salinisation of surface water and soils within the last 10 year period in large part caused by the transformation of coastal freshwater-based rice fields into salt-water based monoculture shrimp farms. A sustainable livelihoods approach is adopted to understand the role of migration in the lives of people living in saline prone areas of Cai Nuoc district. By focusing on migration/displacement as one coping response amongst many in the face of environmental stress may serve to provide further insights into ad hoc adaptation strategies that people adopt when faced with slower and ongoing processes of environmental change.

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J Ellison
School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia

Mangroves are valuable coastal resources, providing coastal protection, wood, and fishery resources to many tropical developing countries, though many countries have lost 50% of mangroves in the last 20 years to conversion and degradation. Mangrove ecosystems are also sensitive to climate change impacts, particularly to associated relative sea-level rise. Inter-tidal mangroves are most extensively developed on sedimentary shorelines, where mud accretion determines their ability to keep up with sea-level rise. The IPCC 4th Assessment projected a global sea level rise of 0.18-0.59 m by 2099 (1.5-9.7 mm a-1), and mangrove accretion rates are usually less than this, resulting in dieback at the seaward edge, and inland recruitment. Rise in temperature and the effects of increased CO2 levels should be largely beneficial by contrast, combining to increase mangrove productivity, and continue expansion of mangrove species ranges into higher latitudes. While these climate change impacts on mangroves are well known, vulnerability assessment approaches and adaptation options to date have been speculative. With support from the UNEP Global Environment Facility and in close collaboration with a range of stakeholders and local communities, WWF is working in large mangrove systems of Cameroon, Tanzania and Fiji to build and strengthen the capacity of local managers to assess mangrove vulnerability and use results to adapt to climate change. Detailed vulnerability assessments are being conducted, which combine remote sensing, species zone mapping and micro-elevation determination, stratigraphic analysis of long term relative sea-level trends where sites lack tide gauges, monitoring of mangrove structure and productivity, mangrove condition and human interaction. Approaches differ form many existing climate change vulnerability assessments, because the key vulnerability is to relative sea-level rise rather than temperature or rainfall changes. Vulnerability assessment results are being used to formulate and test a range of adaptation strategies. These include the designation of strategic protected areas and improved management of sustainable use areas, rehabilitation of degraded areas, reforestation with “climate-smart” mangrove species, more integrated land-use and marine planning, as well as collaboration with local communities to improve resource use efficiency. Testing vulnerability assessment approaches and adaptation methods in geographically diverse locations within a common habitat type aims to increase their generic usefulness, so that project results can be usefully transferred to other mangrove areas around the globe. Through these trials WWF is developing a generalized methodology for assessing vulnerability in mangrove ecosystems and developing adaptation strategies, to be made available to management practitioners around the world. Currently we are sharing lessons and testing approaches with other mangrove areas in the WWF network and other agencies, including in SE Asia and the Caribbean.

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Carmen Elrick and Robert Kay

Human induced climate change into the next century is unequivocal. The impact of this changing climate on Island Nations is also widely accepted. In particular, small islands exposed to natural hazards (storm surges, extreme tides and strong winds and wave action) and anthropogenic pressures (rapidly expanding population) will be most at risk. The Pacific island of Kiribati falls within this category and has consequently been the subject of a focused Climate Adaptation Project (The Kiribati Adaptation Project, KAPII) funded by the World Bank.

A key component of the KAP II Project has been the development of an integrated and coordinated approach to coastal management that explicitly addresses the potential impacts of climate change. Coastal management in Kiribati is primarily reactive in response to issues at a local scale. Formulation of a framework focussed on achieving proactive coastal management while remaining cognisant of on-the-ground capacity constraints. The overall approach to developing the framework was based on the core principles of Integrated Decision Making in the coastal zone, namely:

  • Appropriate direction-setting guidance (policies, plans and strategies); Adequate institutional arrangements; and Comprehensive coastal management planning.
  • In addition, the framework incorporates elements specific to the identified needs to Kiribati:
  • Regulation and enforcement; and
  • Capacity building.
    The resultant framework outlines a simple step-wise approach to achieve Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Republic of Kiribati. In this respect, it represents a key tool in implementing ICZM in resource-constrained environments. Despite its simplicity, it ensures rigour by outlining the actions and associated resource requirements needed to move from a reactive approach to a coordinated, integrated and proactive approach to coastal management. Climate change action is couched within the ‘coastal management planning’ component of the framework.
    An additional component of this work involved practical trails of the framework in climate change risk assessment and adaptation planning by Government of Kiribati staff. The outcomes of this work provide insight into broader implications for climate change adaptation in the pacific and elsewhere, focusing on:
  • Capacity building approaches for climate change impact assessment and adaptation planning. • Evaluating and prioritising impacts and adaptation strategies to address the effects of climate change (focussed on sea level rise and inundation) on atoll environments. • A step-wise approach to achieve ICZM in resource constrained environments.

The outcomes of the work reported on here reinforce that climate change adaptation is most effective if conceptualised within a wider coastal management framework that addresses multiple stresses on coastal resources and the communities that depend on them. Only then can practical climate change adaptation actions be designed and effectively implemented within the day-to-day development challenges faced by I-Kiribati.

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F Gemenne
Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations

Reports on the impacts of climate change, including those of the IPCC, usually describe small island states as ‘especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, sea-level rise, and extreme events’ (Mimura et al. 2007: 689). Over time, the threats posed by sea-level rise to the very existence of these states have been highlighted, and their inhabitants have often been described as the first potential ‘climate refugees’. Most media reports now describe small island states as ‘lost paradises’ and their citizens as ‘canaries in the coalmine’ of global warming, a view that has often been reinforced by official discourses in climate negotiations. Though the reality of environmentally- induced population displacements in small island states cannot be ignored, describing islanders as climate refugees in the making, left with no other choice than fleeing abroad, fail to capture the complexity of environmental changes and migration flows. Migration, by nature, is a multi-causal process, which does not have to epitomize the failure of local adaptation strategies. As an example of this, empirical works have shown that migrants leaving the low-lying archipelago of Tuvalu to New Zealand did so for a variety of reasons, and not only in prevision of future impacts of climate changes (Mortreux and Barnett 2008; Shen and Gemenne 2010). Such reasons include the perspective of earning better wages, pursuing higher education or simply reuniting with family members.

Furthermore, portraying island citizens as disempowered victims of climate change might affect their resilience and resourcefulness, ultimately hindering their adaptation efforts. Community-based adaptation strategies, in particular, could be hindered if the inhabitants of small island states see themselves as doomed.

This paper aims to show why migration should not be conceptualized in a deterministic perspective, but rather as a process that can be activated by the migrants themselves, amongst other options. Drawing from fieldwork carried in Tuvalu, the paper highlights the detrimental effect of the ‘canaries in the coalmine’ rhetoric on the inhabitants’ adaptive capacity.

In coalmines, canaries were used to alert about imminent danger, but were hardly rescued from the danger. Though many resort to this image in order to alert about the imminent threats of climate change, it might actually do more harm than good to the citizens of small island states, as adaptation measures are urgently required. The paper makes the case for these citizens not to be considered as the canaries in the coalmine, but as the miners themselves.

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P D Nunn
Office of the Vice Chancellor, The University of the South Pacific, Fiji

In recognition that islands have a special set of vulnerabilities that place them in the “front line” of climate change, external assistance has poured in to many independent island nations over the past two decades to embed and sustain adaptation initiatives. Most of these have failed because material solutions did not acknowledge the singular environmental and cultural context of islands and because donors did not understand the pathways of effective environmental decision-making.

Two examples are discussed. The first is the “seawall mindset” that has seen an epidemic of locally-made seawalls in response to island shoreline erosion, most of which collapse and fall into disrepair after a few years. This example shows both the dangers of uncritical emulation of adaptive solutions and the potential for disseminating effective solutions in such a manner. The second example is the incomplete understanding of the nature of future climate change and the imperative for adaptation by key island decision-makers, which is resulting in both flawed national policy and an unnecessarily extreme exposure to disasters at local and community level. While both these examples are also found in non-island environments, the nature of island environments and culture make them greater barriers to effective adaptation.

The development of effective adaptive solutions on islands requires a good understanding of island environments and island cultures, much of which can be gleaned from studying the effects of past climate-forced societal changes on islands. The imperative of developing effective solutions is becoming daily greater as island communities throughout the world continue to interact with their environments as they believe they always have.

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S G Smithers and K E Parnell
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Australia

Masig is a low-lying coral cay located in central Torres Strait that is home to approximately 350 people. Together with Poruma and Warraber – two nearby coral cays, and Iama – a granitic island where the village lies over low- lying coastal sediments, Masig has been the focus of a detailed study examining past coastal change and potential vulnerability to projected future sea-level rise. The villages on these islands are located over mainly unconsolidatedaccumulations of reefal sediment with maximum elevations that are generally very close to the present high tide level. The shorelines are dynamic at event, seasonal and decadal timescales, and the islands are already vulnerable to seawater inundation and flooding during the highest spring tides, particularly when they occur simultaneously with surge events. Here we report on the outcomes of this research using Masig as a case study.

The study was undertaken at the request of the Masig community to assist them to:

a. document shoreline change (and responsible processes) to improve access to resources to mitigate coastal erosion; and to b. help inform decision-making by the community on acceptable and realistic adaptation strategies to cope with projected future climate and sea level changes.

The research identified decadal and seasonal changes in shoreline position, with much of the island shoreline fluctuating by as much as 30-40 m during the period since 1974. Patterns of shoreline change established from historical aerial photographs and shoreline mapping were in accord with those remembered by community elders, but overall there has been little net change in island area since 1974. Detailed topographic survey identified sites that were more and less vulnerable to coastal flooding under a range of sea-level rise scenarios, with 40-50% of the island elevated above a projected 0.59 m higher sea level. Frequent dialogue between the community and the research team was a cornerstone of the project, with the community making the decisions using their own knowledge augmented by the information presented by the research team.

The community at Masig understands that the island, especially around the current village, is low and that flooding events may become more significant and frequent as sea levels increase. They also understand that these events will be occasional – on the highest tides and during poor weather only – well into this century. The community expressed a willingness to participate in a process of adaptation to future sea level and coastal changes including such actions as incorporating sea-flooding and erosion hazards into planning for infrastructure planning (including replacement), staged movement of village infrastructure to higher parts of the island, improved berm management, and allowing some parts of the island to erode where that erosion is not threatening people, infrastructure or cultural sites, while monitoring the situation and recognising that usually, comparable accretion is occurring elsewhere on the island.

Significantly, the community recognises that adaptation will raise issues of land tenure and traditional rights that must and will be worked through by the community. The community recognises that changes in their island environment will require changes to present and traditional community practices. However, they also feel that the vulnerability of their island to climate change and sea level rise is not, at present, fully appreciated by policy makers and governments. They feel that they have invested considerable effort and resources into research to enable informed decisions on adaptation strategies, and have indicated that where coastal protection works are required they are willing to test innovative solutions, but are frustrated that to date they have not been successful at securing funding to address identified priorities. The community has re-affirmed a wish to remain on the island, and do not consider relocation off island as an option.

Presentation (PDF)

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N Belova, S Ogorodov, P Overduin and H Lantuit
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Geogaphy, Moscow, Russia
Alfred Wegener Institute for polar and marine research, Potsdam, Germany

Arctic carbon cycle makes a substantial contribution to total carbon cycle of the Earth. During the last 15 years a lot of papers arisen dedicated to calculation of stocks and fluxes of C-containing materials in Arctic. However almost no direct researches were conducted to distinguish the exact amount of carbon coming to ocean with coastal retreat. Meanwhile this input can increase with warming due to accelerated erosion. Less extensive sea ice creates more open water, allowing stronger wave generation by winds, thus increasing wave-induced erosion along arctic shores. Rising temperatures also contribute to the thawing of permafrost and correspondingly increase coastal erosion and carbon input to the sea. The aim of our investigation was to estimate fluxes of particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) from terrestrial to marine area through coastal erosion on the exact place – near Kharasavey settlement on the western coast of Yamal Peninsula, Kara Sea, Russia.

Coastal dynamics were observed near the Kharasavey settlement during the summer of 2008, adding an additional year of data to an existing long-term record. Here stationary observations are conducted along a 21 km section of the coastline from Cape Kharasavey to Cape Burunniy. The northern half of this section is relatively stable, while the southern half was observed to be retreating. Observations were carried out using repeated geodetic surveying from 33 benchmarks which were set up in 1981. The rate of bluff erosion was measured in both natural and human influenced environments. In total, data on coastal erosion have been collected for an extensive coastal section of the Yamal Peninsula over a long time period (1981-2008 yrs). Using these data, we estimate the scale of morpholithodynamic processes. The average long-term rate of coastal erosion ranges from 0.2 to 2.8 m per year along the coast. As a result of coastal erosion, 47500 cu.m. of unconsolidated matter moves into the water from the Kharasavey coastal section per year. Up to 80% of the eroded material is composed of fine-grained fractions.

Simultaneous with direct observations of coastal dynamics in 2008, sediments from the coastal bluff were sampled along the same coastal section. At each point, samples were taken from the main lithological units and from the organic-rich upper part of the coastal bluff. Total carbon (TC) and total organic carbon (TOC) content in these samples leads to calculations of the carbon flux into the sea along a 10 km of the shore.

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R P Cechet1, W C Arthur, L A Sanabria1, C Thomas, D Babu, M Dunford and L Power
Risk and Impact Analysis Group, Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia

This presentation will report on an assessment of regional wind hazard and risk in urban areas, based on innovative modelling techniques and application of National Exposure Information System (NEXIS). A combination of tropical cyclone, synoptic and thunderstorm wind hazard estimates is used to provide a revised estimate of the regional severe wind hazard across Australia at high spatial resolution. The hazard modelling techniques developed in this assessment utilise regional climate model data, which simplifies extension of the method to apply to future climate scenarios and also to other regions. The results of this risk assessment will be compared and contrasted with the risk estimated from the current understanding of wind hazard, as specified in the Australian/New Zealand Wind Loading Standard.

We have also undertaken a national assessment of localised wind speed modifiers (topography, terrain and built environment) to account for these effects in assessment of risk (as the local wind speed is what causes damage to structures, not the regional wind speed). For this activity, the effects are incorporated through a statistical modification of the regional wind speed.

The project will incorporate the outcomes of several related activities, including development of a nationally consistent set of wind vulnerability functions covering principal housing types and age categories to relate local wind speed to building damage.

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I Dawe and A Lash
Environment Management, Greater Wellington Regional Council, New Zealand
Strategy & Community Engagement, Greater Wellington Regional Council, New Zealand

Managing sea level rise and coastal hazards is becoming an increasingly pressing issue in maritime countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands, where a large proportion of the population lives in coastal locations. Climate change and coastal hazard issues cross boundaries – physically and politically. Decision making needs to be integrated across these boundaries if there is be any hope of adapting well to climate change. Furthermore, tackling these issues will be a long-term exercise. In many respects this presents the greatest challenge, as there is
a often a desire for fast, visible results, especially within a ‘term-of-office’ time frame. There is also a perceptual risk of the issues becoming too large to manage, which leads to procrastination and deferment of the problem. These are challenges now confronting local authorities in New Zealand, including Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The Wellington region, in the lower part of New Zealand’s North Island, is one of the most populous parts of the country. The area is administered by eight city and district councils and one regional council; Greater Wellington. Greater Wellington has responsibility for managing the natural resources of the region, including the coastal marine area which encompasses over 500 km of shoreline. Much of the interior is mountainous, and this has lead to development being concentrated on flat land at the coast, much of which is exposed high energy shoreline. Thus, there are significant areas of investment at risk from sea level rise and coastal hazards.

In order to overcome these difficulties, Greater Wellington is adopting a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach to managing coastal hazards. Experience at Greater Wellington has taught that adaptation to these risks needs to be incorporated into every aspect of the planning and decision making process. In this way, it breaks the problem down into manageable proportions that can be tackled incrementally. One of the key ways in which Greater Wellington
is setting the direction for coastal management is with a Regional Policy Statement. This document contains a range of strong policies that will govern how development is allowed to proceed in vulnerable coastal areas. It also mandates a programme for research and information sharing with the community and local authorities.

Research into coastal hazards to identify vulnerabilities will be critical in supporting the aims of the policy document. This information will feed directly into policy and decision making, for example in the granting of building consents or developing hazard maps for district planning. A major project has recently commenced that will model region wide storm surge and coastal inundation, taking into account a range of sea level rise scenarios.

Another aspect of this work has been identifying coastal dune areas suitable for restoration. A series of plans have recently been developed that aim to strengthen natural beach defences by planting with native sand-binders. An important component of this work is carried out by volunteer care groups funded by the council. Working with volunteer groups presents good opportunities for community education, which is a core part raising awareness of climate change issues.

The lessons learnt at Greater Wellington show that long term results will only be achieved by cooperating and working with a wide range of agencies; lessons applicable to any coastal city in the world.

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J Hunter
Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Australia

Currently, planning guidelines which include an allowance for future sea-level rise have been, or are being, developed within Australia. Such allowances should be supported by statistical evidence indicating their “fitness for purpose”, should be consistent with standard design practice and should ensure that there is no overall under- or over-design. All indications are that the State’s allowances will lie in the range 0.8 to 1.0 metre for assets which will last until 2100. The Department of Climate Change recently released a report “Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coast”, which suggested an allowance of 1.1 metres for the 21st century. It will be shown that, if design levels were to be based solely on such allowances, there would a very small likelihood of these levels being exceeded by the ocean during this century. Therefore, for many purposes, the allowances would be too large. There are three main reasons for this tendency:
1. 2. 3.
the allowances are inconsistent with the probability of flooding which we presently find acceptable, the allowances are based on sea-level rise at 2100, rather than over some finite period within the 21st century, and the allowances are based on a worst-case emission scenario.

These arguments will be discussed with Australian examples. A statistical tool will be introduced for assessing the likelihood of coastal flooding during the course of this century. Over-adaption, such as a requirement for excessive allowances for sea-level rise, will lead to the diversion of significant resources away from more appropriate adaptation or mitigation.

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N Mieszkowska and E Poloczanska
Marine Biological Association of the UK
CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Australia

Climate change is having a profound impact on coastal regions globally. Changes in species distributions, invasions and localised extinctions are driving alterations in biodiversity. To form testable hypotheses of the future impacts of climate change, a sound knowledge of current processes set against benchmark reference conditions is urgently needed. Long-term, broad scale datasets,
time series and individual studies dating back to the 1950s for rocky intertidal species have been collected at locations spanning 24 degrees of latitude along the coastline of Europe. These datasets have been continued or re-started on an annual basis since 2002 by the MarClim project and are being used to determine the impacts of climate change on coastal marine ecosystems.

Intertidal habitats exist at the margin of the terrestrial and marine realms, and species occupying these ecosystems are subject to environmental challenges posed by both aerial and aquatic regimes. Their sessile or sedentary nature and relatively short lifespans mean they show fast responses to climate change, providing a unique insight into the impacts of climate change in coastal environments. To date, the greatest effects in the marine environment are occurring in the regions of biogeographic breakpoints, where many species reach their distributional limits. MarClim has identified some of the fastest changes within coastal ecosystems globally since the current period of warming began in the mid-1980s, and demonstrates how intertidal invertebrates and macroalgae are sentinel species, ‘canaries in the coalmine’ for climate change.

Rapid poleward extensions of warm water species and contractions of cold water species have occurred in the region of the transition zone between boreal and lusitanian waters in the north east Atlantic. Rates of change up to 50km per decade far exceed recorded changes in the terrestrial environment, with concurrent increases in abundance over several degrees of latitude. Phenological shifts including earlier onset of reproduction, changes in reproductive strategy and increased overwinter survival of recruits are driving biogeographic shifts in warm-temperate species. The species-specific nature of these shifts are driving alterations in community composition and ecosystem structure and function with subsequent impacts on primary productivity and organic flux between benthic and pelagic zones. In addition, warming temperatures are enhancing colonization by non-native species and these changes have implications for coastal marine biodiversity.

Increasing awareness of climate change as a key pressure on marine systems and biodiversity has firmly established global warming on political and science agendas. National and international directives require information on biodiversity, ecological status and stability of marine environments to provide a knowledge base from which to develop fit-for-purpose management and adaptation action plans. The MarClim time-series are being used to provide fit-for-purpose, expert scientific advice and supply evidence to UK and European government conservation agencies. This knowledge is assisting the development of effective management and adaptational strategies for marine biodiversity resources and ecosystem services, ensuring compliance with national and European policy directives and informing national assessments of the status and socio-economic importance of coastal ecosystems such as the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership Report Cards, Charting Progress 2 and the National Ecosystem Assessment. The data is also providing a contextual basis to monitoring within marine protected areas, allowing changes within MPAs to be compared to local and regional trends.

Integrating monitoring schemes across national and regional scales through the formation of national and international networks enables the relative contributions of natural and anthropogenic drivers to be separated. The spatio-temporal extent of the dataset facilitates analyses at species, assemblage and community levels, and comparisons of responses at local, regional and national scales. Ecological forecast models have been developed to predict future changes in distributions of intertidal species against various emissions scenarios. Already, field data is supporting predicted exponential declines in keystone species with cooler water affinities. The MarClim methodology is recognized in the UK as an example of best practice, and has recently been extended to New Zealand, where a national baseline has been established to monitor future impacts of warming and sea level rise. These methodologies
could also be applied to the Australian coastal region, and would be particularly valuable with a focus on biogeographic boundaries between temperate and subtropical regions, where invasion and loss of species is already thought to be occurring.

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S Ogorodov, N Belova, F Romanenko and O Shilovtseva
Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

About a half of the Russian Arctic coasts is formed by ice-rich permafrost deposits. The mean annual coastal retreat rate can reach up to 1-5 m per year. In general, the exact processes which affect thermal-erosion coasts and the intensity of these processes are determined by a combination of and interaction between thermal and wave-energy factors.

The thermal influence shows itself as energy transmission to the coast, which is composed of frozen sediments, via radiative and sensible heat fluxes from air and water. Correspondingly, higher air and water temperatures together with longer ice-free period and longer period with positive air temperature, affect the stability of frozen coasts.

The wave-energy factor acts via the direct mechanical impact of sea waves on the shore. In arctic seas the wind-induces waves are predominate. The effectiveness of this factor is determined by storm-driven sea surge intensity as well as by the length of the stormiest period. Conversely, surge intensity substantially depends on the fetch, which is intrinsically linked to sea-ice extent.

The evolution of Arctic coasts over the coming decades will be governed by changes in the natural environment caused by the effects of climate warming. Rising temperatures are altering the arctic coastline by reducing sea ice and permafrost thawing, and larger changes are projected to occur as this trend continues. This is an important topic to pursue given the direct impacts to human communities and infrastructure already being felt along Arctic coasts.

The minimal area of sea ice extent in the northern hemisphere during the last 30 years changed from 6 to 3.5 millions square kilometers. In September, 2007, the area of sea ice achieved its historical minimum for the period of satellite observation (since 1978). Less extensive sea ice creates more open water, allowing stronger wave generation by winds, thus increasing wave-induced erosion along arctic shores. Therefore, the acceleration of erosion and thermo-abrasion of the coast can be caused by both increase of the air and water temperature and possible increasing of wind-wave activity.

For the key sites of Russian Arctic where the stationary observations for coastal dynamics are carried out we havemade the calculations of year to year variations of wave energy during the last 30 years. Based on a hindcast analysis it was revealed that warming events didn’t always lead to the increase of wave energy or acceleration of coastal erosion. For example, in the Arctic regions we have studied in half of the cases warm periods were characterized on one side by reduce of ice cover and growth of open water area, on the other side – by sudden decreasing of wind- wave activity. As a result no acceleration in coastal retreat was observed. Furthermore, in West sector of Russian Arctic the wave fetch was limited by the presence of islands, and in the East one – by wave acceleration limit.

Thus, the prevailing at the moment scenarios of catastrophic acceleration of coastal erosion in Arctic are, in our opinion, strongly exaggerated.

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O Sahin, S Mohamed and J Warnken
Griffith School of Engineering, Griffith University, Australia
Griffith School of Environment, Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Australia

Most infrastructure, settlements and facilities are located near the coast and are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise (SLR), coastal erosion and storms. Continued population growth in low-lying coastal areas will increase vulnerability to these hazards.

At the projected rates, SLR may not pose an immediate threat to coastal areas; nevertheless, a higher sea level will provide a higher base for storm surges to build upon and diminish the draining rate of low-lying areas, thereby increasing the risk of flooding from rainstorms.

Due to uncertainty in climate change predictions, coastal vulnerability assessments (VA) and most town planning activities are based on an assumption that sea level will remain constant in the future. However, climate change is undeniable and the resulting SLR is a reality that coastal communities will face in the coming decades. Thus, it is essential to consider coastal dynamics in assessing the impacts of SLR under various scenarios when preparing our cities for the future.

Currently, the number of regional-scale VA studies is limited. They are, however, required by local stakeholders to design adaptation strategies at a local level. Therefore, the knowledge gaps with respect to how coastal areas can adapt to climate change must be filled. The dilemmas confronting decision makers are: when and where to adapt to SLR.

By considering the complex and dynamic nature of coastal systems interacting and changing over time and addressing these dilemmas, this research intends to provide a dynamic model for a VA of coastal areas to assist decision makers to identify and evaluate effective adaptation alternatives for reducing climate change impacts.

The research models coastal inundation to make predictions about what might happen with different actions addressing a range of SLR scenarios. Under these scenarios, the extent and timing of coastal inundation and its impacts will be assessed in terms of a range of indicators; for example, impacted population numbers, impacted properties and socio-economic characteristics of impacted regions. The research examines natural and socio-economic systems already vulnerable to current climate variability by firstly analysing their current conditions, to provide a reference map to compare future conditions. It then analyses the systems under various scenarios to identify how climate change affects the already troubled systems over time.

Traditional modelling approaches focus on either temporal or spatial variations, but not both. However, it is the space-time integration that provides the explanatory power to understand and predict reality. Accordingly, they must be examined together for modelling the environment. Therefore, the research concentrates on the concurrent modelling of temporal and spatial variations of coastal processes. To achieve this outcome, two modelling techniques are combined: (1) System Dynamics, and (2) Geographical Information Systems.

A combination of these approaches would provide the potential to address temporal and spatial problems concurrently. Owing to the model’s flexible structure, any other elements such as population growth and economic scenarios effecting coastal systems, can be integrated as needed. Users can change values of the model variables during the simulation process to test impacts of various scenarios.

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J Stevens C Attwater and J Carley
Asset Management, Clarence City Council, Australia
SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd, Australia
Water Research Laboratory, UNSW, Australia

The City of Clarence has 191 kilometres of coastline, much of which is low-lying. Significant inundation and storm surge incidents have occurred in Clarence coastal areas in recent decades and significant coastal dune degradation has occurred. Community consultation supported solid scientific investigation into coastal processes in order to plan a response to such events. The Climate Change Impacts on Clarence Coastal Areas Report combined the best available scientific methodology with social research in coastal communities to assist in understanding and planning responses to the impacts of climate change induced sea level rise. A technical report identified the coastal processes and associated coastal hazards related to sea level rise with inundation and erosion as the 2 most significant hazards. The study made use of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to produce a series of hazard maps for the vulnerable areas of Clarence for the Present Day, 2050 high and 2100 high predicted sea level rise. Hazard maps were colour coded to show the extent of inundation and erosion. A matrix was produced showing the relationship between indicative Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) inundation for sea level rise and the depth of flooding. This demonstrated that under Present Day conditions an area may experience a 1% AEP flood of 300 millimetres, while under a 2100 high scenario such an event would be occurring with an AEP of 76% which would be severely compromise the amenity of the area. A similar matrix showed indicative inundation depths for the 1 in 100 year event in the Present Day as 300 millimetres with the corresponding 2100 high scenario as 1.2 metres deep, which would result in a significant loss or damage to property value and amenity. These maps and tables present the consequences of climate induced sea level rise risk in a format that is easy for the community to read and understand. The City’s vulnerable areas were grouped into three major categories; areas currently at risk; areas with medium term risk in 25 to 75 years; and areas with long term risk at 75 years and beyond. In response to the identified hazards adaptive management options were recommended based on a hierarchical series of responses of protect, accommodate and finally retreat. The predicted levels of flooding and erosion hazard will not occur in the immediate future but over several decadesand as a consequence the adaptive management options considered first deal with; planning controls; physical works; ongoing monitoring; and 10 year reviews. As an initial response Council has developed a specific coastal amendment to the planning scheme to address increasing risks to existing development. The planning amendment has two overlays; a Coastal Hazard Overlay and an Inundation Overlay. Both Overlays have three zones relating to Present Day, 2050 high and 2100 high sea level rise predictions. The overlays require all uses and development to have a permit and sets out minimum floor levels and other performance measures as part of the specific decision requirements of the overlays. All applications must be accompanied by a report prepared by suitably qualified personnel that demonstrates the specific decision requirements of the overlays will be satisfied. A feasibility study has also been undertaken on sand scraping and beach profiling for the areas currently at risk of coastal erosion for consideration by Council as part of the 2010/2011 budget. Council’s plan is to identify a series of triggers as part of its adaptive management process to raise awareness and respond to risk before the risk becomes excessive. Council will manage the risk as it develops. Managing the risk does not eliminate all risk. More extreme events will sometimes occur that exceed the capacity of the plans undertaken by the Council. However, if suitable actions are taken these more extreme events will be relatively rare and the damage and safety impacts will remain relatively manageable. The detailed analysis undertaken and its integration into the business of local government in the areas of planning and asset protection will act as a template for other coastal communities and local authorities around Australia.

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B Wecker
Queensland Government (Department of Environment and Resource Management), Australia

Sea-level rise and its effects on coastal communities will create significant challenges for adaptation planning on both short and long timescales. To give Australian communities the opportunity to undertake timely adaptation to climate change it is important that easily accessible information be available on the expected climate changes.

The most important information to inform adaptation decisions regarding sea-level rise is geographical data covering coastal and near-coastal land areas. Fundamental to this is a digital elevation model (DEM) of sufficient precision and quality to allow the accurate determination of risk areas associated with sea-level rise.

Three-dimensional maps of the natural and man-made coastal features based on the DEM can then be used to produce a virtual representation of coastal erosion, flooding and inundation under a range of climate changescenarios. These interactive maps provide important climate adaptation decision making tools as they identify areas likely to be at increased risk from climate change impacts such as storm-surge, sea level rise and erosion.

The availability of these new interactive maps allows planners to make more informed decisions when planning infrastructure and community developments; provides transportation industries with access to comprehensive spatial data to assist in transport infrastructure planning; and supports rapid and informed response to emergency situations by emergency managers.

Here, we present the conceptual framework behind the use of high-resolution digital elevation maps to inform and improve climate change adaptation decision making.

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W Wright, R Hutchinson and A Howard
Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Australia

Climate change adaptation depends on reliable, long-term climate data. Such data supports the construction of climate change projections, and additionally, at the individual country level, provides a historical basis on which to develop downscaled climate change projections needed to develop effective adaptation strategies. It is desirableto have data at a sufficiently representative number of stations to ensure that projections adequately represent all significant climate niches, along with major socio-economic and vulnerable areas, within a country.

Unfortunately, many developing and least-developed countries lack the resources to adequately observe, manage, and make accessible their climate data, and in some cases the original paper-based records are at risk of loss. This is very much the case in many Pacific Island Countries, which are also among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. The Australian Government, as part of a much larger Australian Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (ICCAI), has provided funding through its Pacific Climate Change Science Project (PCCSP) to, among other things, (i) improve understanding of
key Pacific Region climate features; (ii) model the potential effects of climate change on these; (iii) apply new downscaling techniques to better reflect climate change at sub-island scales. The project recognises that to support this work, the project’s research scientists must have access to high quality data for a sufficiently representative number of stations across the Pacific-southeast Asian region. Therefore, part of the project is devoted to developing an in-country capability to secure, digitise, manage, and provide access to, climate data in 15 participating countries within the Pacific-southeast Asian area.

The work to be described will include data rescue activities (which have actually been ongoing in the area for some years), and the development and implementation of robust in-country data management systems in the 15 partner countries. The author will outline a number of issues the project team has had to address in carrying out the work, issues with general applicability to obtaining data from developing and least-developed countries throughout the world. Such issues include technological and resource limitations, and the challenges of capacity-building and training peculiar to developing countries. It is important that such issues be understood and addressed, because data from all such countries are needed for the construction of global climate change projections, but also because the impacts of climate change will
be particularly significant in many of these developing and least developed countries. Links to other international projects undertaking related work, such as ACRE and some World Meteorological Organisation initiatives, will be briefly described.

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