Coastal Erosion and Climate Change

Bunurong Coast 2019

Retired CSIRO climate scientist Barrie Pittock* penned a missive in response to an article entitled “Bayside councils acting on beach erosion” referring to erosion in Port Phillip Bay. The article, Barrie said: “missed the point that this is a much wider problem in Victoria, with widespread coastal erosion along the Bass coast. I have long shared a holiday house [at] Lake Bunga, just east of Lakes Entrance, and have observed large amounts of coastal erosion already. It is partly due to sea-level rise, but mostly… due to the strengthening and warming of the East Australian current, and the mid-latitude westerlies moving further south.”

Barrie continued that: “this has led to a slightly higher sea-level in the East of Bass Strait and stronger and more frequent easterly winds and waves along the Victorian coast. That has led to more erosion of the East side of headlands, including the one at the eastern end of the 90-mile beach, and the bluff at Barwon Heads, and cliffs near Anglesea, and to the need for more protection of the Entrance to the Gippsland Lakes. The coastal edge of the Lakes Entrance golf course has been seriously eroded, with loss of some sand dunes and coastal tea-trees there and further along the coast.”

“In the foreseeable future we can expect far worse coastal erosion, and I expect the blocking of the outlet of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads, by sand moving westwards… That is just some of it! We have a big problem due to sea-level rise and changing ocean currents and wave motion.”

Other Gippsland examples in line with Barrie’s comments include the severe erosion at Inverloch, which has been frequently mentioned in this blog. Sea level rise, coastal erosion, and storm surge in combination are already threatening and damaging our coast.

*I receive regular emails from Barrie – mostly letters to various journals and papers. For more on Barrie see here.