Sustainability Science

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 67–87

Australian approaches to coastal vulnerability assessment

Special Feature: Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11625-008-0041-5

Cite this article as:
Harvey, N. & Woodroffe, C.D. Sustain Sci (2008) 3: 67. doi:10.1007/s11625-008-0041-5


The Australian coastline is one of the longest and most diverse of any in the world, and Australian researchers have developed preliminary models of the behaviour of major coastal systems such as beaches and reefs. The Australian population is particularly focused along the coastline, especially in metropolitan centres; however, the population of regional centres along the coast is increasing steadily in response to a phenomenon termed seachange. Coastal systems are increasingly threatened by potential impacts as a result of climate change, as indicated by the successive assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Although Australia played a central role in applying a common methodology (CM), developed from IPCC guidelines in the 1990s, and in devising alternative approaches, which were initially trialled at nine sites on the Australian coast, there has not been a nationally co-ordinated approach to assessing the coastal vulnerability of Australia, and such an approach is only emerging now. Instead, there have been a series of different approaches adopted to look at the different parts of the Australian coast, including wetland mapping in northern Australia; geomorphic unit mapping in South Australia; storm surge vulnerability modelling in Queensland; probabilistic approaches to beach erosion in New South Wales; indicative mapping of potential coastal retreat in Tasmania. Additionally, there have been methods proposed by insurers and coastal engineers to meet their requirements. Since 2005, the Australian government has once again seen the need for a national coastal vulnerability assessment, and a series of studies are planned or under way to achieve the aims of a National Climate Change Adaptation Framework.


AustraliaCoastGlobal climate changeSea-level riseVulnerability assessment

Copyright information

© Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geographical and Environmental StudiesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia