Project 588 - Preparing for Costal Change

Changes in relative sea level, coastal evolution and extreme events such as storms and tsunami are of local and global interest, which hinder individual well-being and intensify/enhance environmental degradation. An increased public awareness of predicted future sea-level rise combined with recent devastating extreme events has placed significant socioeconomic relevance on the understanding of human-land-ocean interaction and coastal dynamics. The impending threat of sea-level rise to large low lying coastal cities such as New Orleans, Shanghai, Venice, and island communities such as the Maldives, Kiribati and Tavaru have highlighted the importance of understanding relative sea-level change in the past to better predict the future. Similarly extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina, Cyclone Nargis and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami have demonstrated the vulnerability of coastal communities the world over. As a consequence there is a growing population that are vulnerable to coastal flooding associated with sea-level rise, storm surges, tsunami and river flooding.

A cross-cutting theme relevant to all time frames is the impact of humans on past and the future coastal landscapes. This project looks at records that will assist in assessing human interactions, coastal dynamics and vulnerability at different timescales which are immediately relevant to a variety of stakeholders interested in the future of coastal communities.

They are: catastrophic or instantaneous events (minutes to hours); measurable and predictable changes (hours to years) for planning scale decisions (year decades) and; geological scale changes (centuries to millennia).

We aim to build on the sea level community’s understanding of how coasts have changed in the past and, from this, provide in a chronologically constrained context our expectations of what we might expect in the future. The examination of the systematic response of coastal systems at different temporal scales allows us to meet the needs of a wide variety of community stakeholders. Examples include emergency services (planning for extreme events), government agencies and insurers (resource management and strategies for mitigation and/or adaptation to sea-level change, flooding and the quantification of the recurrence interval of extreme events), and coastal engineers (e.g. planning defense against relative sea-level change).

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