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Snap the sea, see the future What could Australia’s coast look like in the future?

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Despite the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is demonstrable evidence that some level of climate change is now inevitable. NSW 2021 - A plan to make NSW number one includes a commitment from the Government to minimise the impacts of climate change in local communities.

Adaptation is a way of taking advantage of the benefits and minimising the costs of climate change. Adaptation complements emission reduction measures and is a necessary part of addressing the climate change challenge. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) aims to build the resilience of the state's natural environment, economy and communities.

Helping NSW Local Government adapt

The Government is committed to 'assist local government to build resilience to future extreme events and hazards by helping them to understand and minimise the impacts of climate change'. Helping NSW Local Government Adapt lists projects to help councils manage and build resilience to the projected impacts of climate change.

NSW Government policy in relation to Sea Level Rise

As part of its stage one coastal management reforms, the NSW Government announced that councils would have the flexibility to determine their own sea level rise projections for use by councils. The 2009 NSW Sea Level Rise Policy Statement is no longer NSW Government Policy.

The Office of Environment and Heritage has released guidelines on incorporating sea level rise into flood risk and coastal hazard assessment. These documents will be revised as part of the reform process. In the interim, reference to the NSW sea level rise planning benchmarks in these documents should be taken as referring to council's adopted sea level rise projections.

Recorded historical sea level rise

Recorded sea levels are influenced by factors such as tides, waves, storm surges, seasonal temperature effects, and longer term effects due to large scale phenomena like the El Nino-Southern Oscillation. Therefore, short-term sea level records reflect short-term trends which may be different from long-term trends. A 2011 analysis of global tide gauge records and satellite altimetry has found that:

  • Global average sea levels increased by 210 mm from 1880 to 2009
  • While there was considerable variability in the rate of rise during the twentieth century, there has been a statistically significant acceleration since 1900
  • Between 1993 and 2009, the estimated rate of rise was 3.2 +/- 0.4 mm per year from the satellite altimetry data and 2.8 mm +/- 0.8 mm per year from tidal records.

Longer term analysis of NSW data is available from tide records at Fort Denison based on relative sea level measurements. Equipment to measure the influence of land movement on tide records was installed in May 2012 and will provide improved estimates of absolute sea level rise over time. Further information on observed historical mean sea levels is available from the links and resource below.

Projected future sea level rise

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has developed a range of sea level rise projections, with the lowest projection effectively being a continuation of the current rate of observed sea level rise. Further information on sea level rise projections is also available from the links and resource below.

Carrington Newcastle - Bruce Coates 14 December 2008

Ballina Bus Interchange Night

Kirribilli Point - Adrian Turnbull 12 Jan 2009

Gosford Storefronts

Brunz Co -op

Warringah Baths

Dee Why Baths

Phil Watson NSW OEH