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Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change on the South Australian coast

Principal Investigators: Button and Harvey

coastline with sandbags along the beach

Hallett Cove, South Australia 
(source Romana Dew)

coastline with sandbags along the beach

Elliston town jetty
(source Ben Smith)

This project provides an updated assessment of the potential climate change risks to the South Australian coast, principally sea-level risk and increased erosion and also the results of a vulnerability and adaptation study focusing on perceived community perception of coastal impacts. In the twenty-four years since the first assessment report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change, there has been much progress on the scientific basis for concern about the implications of anthropogenic climate change the world over. In South Australia, during these twenty-four years there has also been significant progress in actions to address issues for mitigation and adaptation, namely through emissions legislation in 2007 and an adaptation framework in 2012. Despite debates in the literature over the rates and potential impacts of sea-level rise, both globally and regionally, South Australia’s policies on coast protection and new coastal development (1991), and coastal erosion, flooding and sea-level rise (1992) remain in place. This is also despite a growing amount of coastal property and related infrastructure deemed ‘at risk’, as well as an increasing coastal population.


Based on this research, Button and Harvey have a paper (2015) in a special volume on climate change in South Australia published by the Royal Society of South Australia.  The paper draws on evidence derived from sea change communities in regional South Australia and concludes that perceptions of risk and opportunities for adaptation play an important role in the assessment of vulnerability, and should not be overlooked due to their value to inform policy decisions.

Centre for Coastal Research

The Centre for Coastal Research is no longer active. For all coastal research matters, please contact Professor Nick Harvey.