Australia’s coastlines are naturally dynamic. Processes of erosion, transportation and accretion (the build-up of sediments) shift and shape the coastline. Erosion can have dramatic impacts during storms, when winds and waves are strong. But this is often just a short-term impact, with sediment gradually regained over weeks and months, either dumped back by the sea or deposited from inland sources via rivers and creeks.
These processes are largely driven by climate and climate driven ocean processes -- currents, wind, waves and storms. These climate drivers mean our coastal areas are already vulnerable to damage. Climate change will worsen those risks.
What will be intensified and changed by the climate emergency?
Climate change will bite in a number of ways. Sea level rise combined with intense storms pose the greatest erosion and damage risk. Sea level rise increases the height of waves while storms generate powerful waves and winds that produce storm tides and as a result, erosion.