Climate Change and the Coast

The City of Greater Geraldton is facing the adverse impacts of coastal erosion and inundation on our coastlines. The vulnerability of land use and development within the coastal zone from these physical processes  is expected to increase in the future. Whilst the scientific community has established that human-induced climate change is occurring, uncertainty remains about the magnitude and extent of the impacts.  Despite the uncertainty, consideration of coastal hazards and the adaptation management of appropriate planning responses can provide economic, environmental and social benefits.

Climate Change and the State Government

The State government's climate change strategy Adapting to Our Changing Climate outlines the key challenges Western Australia will face in a number of areas. Each of these areas has been identified as being central to the future standard of living, prosperity and environmental integrity of Western Australia.

Observed Changes in WA

Temperature: Since 1910, annual average temperatures in Australia have increased by 0.9°C.  Since 1950, most of WA has experienced an increase of 0.10°C to 0.2°C per decade. (Australian climate variability & Change - trendmaps, BoM 2015)

Rainfall: Since 1950, rainfall for most parts of WA outside of the south-west has increased, with the highest increase recorded in parts of the north-east of the state.(BoM 2015). Since 1950, rainfall in south-west WA has decreased significantly, with the largest decrease in the Bunbury to Walpole region, where is has fallen by up to 50mm each decade (BoM 2015)

Sea level rise: Sea levels recorded at Fremantle indicate a long-term average rise of 1.5mm each year between 1997-2004.(Pattiaratchi & Eliot, 2005) More recent shorter-term data from Hillary's monitoring station indicate a greater increase of about 9mm each year from 1991-2011. (BoM 2011)

The State Government is currently undertaking a climate change assessment every two years to track sea level rise and makes recommendations on coastal planning policy based on the rise in sea level. Since measurements have been taken sea level has risen 0.38m and if this trend continues, sea level is expected to increase 0.9m over the coming 100 years.

The weather: Changes in the intensity and frequency of severe weather events have also been observed with a trend towards more intense tropical storms and cyclones. 

More information on the affects of rainfall, the weather and sea level rise is shaping our coastline can be found here

More information on risks and impacts of climate change on the coast here

Whitehill Road in Drummond Cove