Our climate is changing as a result of global warming. These changes will exacerbate existing coastal hazards such as rising sea levels, storm surges and coastal erosion.
The Our Coast project is bringing local governments and their communities together to plan for these changes. It is part of a Victorian Government-funded initiative to help Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula communities successfully respond to the threat of inundation as a result of sea level rise and storm surge. At the Australian Coastal Councils Conference held in March, Our Coast won the award for Coastal Adaptation.
The Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula region is one of four Victorian coastal regions involved in undertaking Local Coastal Hazard Assessments as part of this project. These assessments expand on previous climate change coastal hazards research the Victorian Government has completed, and will assist coastal communities, councils and government to plan and respond together.
The project to date:
Phase 1 – The Geelong-Queenscliff Coastal Mapping Project – identified areas exposed to erosion and inundation hazards with future sea level rise.
This involved a technical assessment of coastal data looking at hazards including catchment inundation, storm surge and erosion; and resulted in a series of hazard maps showing inundation in a range of severe weather events and sea level rise scenarios.
Phase 2 – The Geelong-Queenscliff Coastal Climate Change Risk Assessment
This assessment identified the impact of inundation hazards identified in the Geelong-Queenscliff Coastal Mapping project on coastal communities and adjoining natural areas. In particular, it investigated and prioritised risks to private, public, environmental and social/cultural assets.
The project also helps build the capacity of coastal communities, state and local government, and other stakeholders to assess coastal inundation risks, and develop effective adaptation responses. As well as increasing community awareness and understanding of climate change risks and adaptation responses.
Phase 3 – Geelong-Queenscliff Coastal Adaptation Program
This phase is investigating adaptation solutions and responses to the coastal hazards and risks identified in the earlier stages of the Our Coast program. Adaptation solutions may involve a range of responses including, changes to the planning scheme, further research, coastal engineering (soft and hard), living shorelines, building/urban design and behavioural responses. This project is building community and stakeholder capacity and knowledge of the impacts associated with inundation on our coast, and the responses relating to various locations.
The Geelong-Queenscliff Local Coastal Inundation Hazard Assessment overview
The study area included the entire Bellarine Peninsula and the northern side of Corio Bay, from Breamlea in the south to Point Wilson in the north.
The assessment brings together historical data with modelling and projected sea level rise of not less 0.2m by 2040 and 0.8m by 2100. Technical specialists completed the sea level rise and storm surge modelling using the best available science and knowledge.
The study was divided into nine compartments to reflect differences of the land surface and observed coastal processes. Priority was given to areas identified with assets located close to the coast i.e. roads, townships or areas of environmental or cultural value.
The study findings show that the level of hazard is markedly different between locations, depending on their elevation and situation.
The information gained from the project will assist in planning and managing coastal hazards. And allow management agencies and other stakeholders to identify triggers for short, medium and long term management responses.
The type of response in each local area will vary with community response and expectations, and may include, strategic and statutory planning processes, infrastructure maintenance and replacement schedules, natural asset management business planning and budget allocation.
Information from the assessment will help identify how, when and where the Victorian Government, Geelong and Queenscliffe councils, partner agencies, the community and industry can work together to respond to impacts of inundation as a result of climate change on the coast.
The mapping and related information have been used as engagement and planning tools to understand community values, issues and priorities for collaborative action on climate change.
Councils have a key role in working with their communities to understand these values and take action at a local level.