Associate Professor Hannah Power. Credit: Linda Drummond.
Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Full article published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Associate Professor Hannah Power, based at The University of Newcastle, and colleagues around Australia, have recently published the results of a collaborative exercise to identify emerging issues and priorities in coastal geoscience and engineering for Australia. The research surveyed the coastal science and engineering community in Australia – those who work to protect and manage the coast – to identify the research and actions and strategies that they deemed most critical to focus on.

'Over 85% of Australians live within 50 km of the coastline, and climate change poses enormous challenges for our coastal communities, with sea level rise and other factors making protection of our coast ever more critical,' says Dr Power. 'Adaptation to coastal hazards has been identified as a high priority initiative by Infrastructure Australia and there is a critical need for a strategic and coordinated response to the challenges we face. Our research identifies the priority research actions and strategies that need to be addressed by the coastal geoscience and engineering community over the next decade to ensure we are best placed to adapt to these challenges.'

Some of the priorities identified include the need for focussed research to quantify the future impacts of climate change on Australia's coastal environments and infrastructure, including the threats from coastal inundation and shoreline change (such as coastal erosion). The research also highlighted the benefits of removing barriers across professional communities and engaging coastal communities and stakeholders to take ownership of coastal management issues. 

The report calls for a dedicated coastal research observatory, and for the development of a coastal data collection strategy, to enable expanded and nationally-consistent data collection methods, and a coastal data repository to compile all existing coastal data and make it accessible. 

Dr Power says that she hopes the outcomes of the priority setting exercise can guide policy development and decision-making in Australia and to provide a clear evidence base to direct future research effort and funding.

'The research and innovation priorities identified here will address key national challenges targeted at minimising exposure to future hazards in our coastal regions, and deriving social, environmental, and economic benefits for most Australians,' says Dr Power.

Photo credit: 

Associate Professor Hannah Power. Credit: Linda Drummond.