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

Project background

We love our coasts! Coasts and beaches are as fundamental to the Australian way of life as vegemite and cricket. It's not surprising that more than three quarters of our population live within 50km of the coastline. In fact, population density in coastal areas has grown by 14% between 2001 and 2009. As a result, our coastal communities, as well as the natural and built environment along our coastlines, are under increasing pressure.

What's more, scientists around the world are warning of the risks to our coastal zones from gradual sea level rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects a global sea level rise of up to 80 cm by 2100. Climate scientists project that in the future extreme weather events (such as cyclone, storm surge and severe storms) may become more severe and, if not, more frequent. With an average rise of 50 cm over the 21st century, this would mean that events now happening every 10 years could occur every 10 days by 2100. This could have significant effects on Australia's coastline and inter-tidal foreshores.

Protecting our coasts and adapting to the changing sea levels will be critical in maintaining our Aussie way of life and special relationship with the coast. It is important that we communicate and help visualise what the potential impacts of sea level rise could look like, so we can start raising awareness, planning proactively and preparing for the future.

The Witness King Tides project does exactly that. King tides are a natural phenomena that occur twice a year because of the combined influence of a number of astronomical factors related to the sun and the moon and the gravitational attraction they each have on the water surface of the Earth. King tides are the highest tides of the year and offer an opportunity for the public to understand what sea level rise projections might mean for their local community.