Our sea levels are rising. Understanding the dynamics of the beach envelope and its overlap with human infrastructure is fundamental for effective coastal management. Dr David Kennedy studies the dynamic adaptation of beaches in the past to inform how we can manage them into the future. While NSW beaches have been studied for decades, but we are only just starting to understand the behaviours of Victoria’s beaches and their underlying geology.
Associate Professor Stephen Gallagher has spent months at sea over the past several years, drilling into the past to obtain a record of Australian geological history. The expedition set out to recover a 5-million-year record of the Australian climate – and surpassed their expectations by uncovering 50 million years. Gallagher was pleasantly surprised at the gems of information discovered on changes to aridity, sea levels, and monsoon cycles that the core samples revealed.
Imagine sweltering through four days of 40°C – 50°C temperatures. Or not being able to get home because flooding has disrupted rail and road networks. With the changing global climate, such scenarios are possible within the next 20 years. The question is: will Victoria be resilient to these challenges? This is the problem senior government officials and researchers gathered together to answer. RSV’s inaugural Future Thinking Forum saw representatives from over 35 agencies, including universities and government, meet to discuss Victoria’s capacity to cope with extreme weather. The proceedings began with the description of two possible extreme weather scenarios: a severe heatwave and an extreme flooding and wind event. These scenarios were not one of a distant future, nor were they from a dystopian, Eco-Disaster novel. They could be Victoria’s reality within the next two decades.