The ASLRP project was filmed for the television series Totally Wild. Here Dr Javier Leon Patino shows how he uses GPS to map out accurate information about the elevation of our coasts.
The ASLRP project was filmed for the television series Totally Wild. Here Dr Javier Leon Patino shows how he uses GPS to map out accurate information about the elevation of our coasts.

The Challenge

More than 80 per cent of Australia’s population lives within 50 kilometres of the coastline. As a result, rapid sea level rise poses a serious yet poorly understood threat to coastal Australia. Combined with periodic storm surge, rain inundation and tidal effects, sea level rise is set to dramatically increase the number and scale of extreme events, as well as drive profound changes to the geomorphology of coastal Australia.

Our Response

The GCI adopted a multi-disciplinary approach to generate the tools needed to understand, communicate and adapt to the consequences of sea level rise. The Australian Sea Level Rise Partnership (ASLRP) is a think-tank that draws expertise from the full spectrum of relevant disciplines, including law, geomorphology, business and economics, conservation and urban planning, policy, coastal ecology, engineering, sustainability and human geography. ASLRP is tackling the questions, which in decades to come, we will wish we had answered today.

The Result

The ASLRP wrapped up in December 2014 and produced more than 20 important peer-reviewed publications and books addressing the challenges of rapid anthropogenic sea level rise for Australia.

View the final report here.

Learn about the effect of rising sea levels on tropical marine environments in this short animation produced by Dr Megan Saunders

Research Papers

The research papers produced through the ASLRP will help local governments and councils plan for sea level rise. The papers include:

BALDOCK, T. E., GOLSHANI, A., CALLAGHAN, D., SAUNDERS, M. I. & MUMBY, P. J. 2014. Impact of sea-level rise and coral mortality on the wave dynamics and wave forces on barrier reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 83, 155-164.

BELL J., SAUNDERS M.I., LEON J.X., MILLS M., KYTHREOTIS A., PHINN S., MUMBY P.J., LOVELOCK C.E., HOEGH-GULDBERG O., MORRISON T.H. (2014) Maps, laws and planning policy: Working with biophysical and spatial uncertainty in the case of sea level rise. Environmental Science and Policy 44: 247-257. 

BELL, J. & BAKER-JONES, M. 2014. Retreat from retreat – the backward evolution of sea-level rise policy in Australia, and the implications for local government. Local Government Law Journal, 23, 23-35.

BELL, J. 2012b. Planning for climate change and sea level rise - Queensland’s new Coastal plan. Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 29, 61-74.

BELL, J. In press. Climate Change and Coastal Development Law in Australia. Federation Press.

BROWN, C. J., SAUNDERS, M. I., POSSINGHAM, H. P. & RICHARDSON, A. J. 2013a. Interactions between global and local stressors of ecosystems determine management effectiveness in cumulative impact mapping. Diversity and Distributions, 1-9.

BROWN, C. J., SAUNDERS, M. I., POSSINGHAM, H. P. & RICHARDSON, A. J. 2013b. Managing for interactions between local and global stressors of ecosystems. PLOS One, 8, e65765.

HAMYLTON, S. M., LEON, J. X., SAUNDERS, M. I. & WOODROFFE, C. D. 2014. Simulating reef response to sea-level rise at Lizard Island: a geospatial approach. Geomorphology. DOI: 10.1016/geomorph.2014.03.006.

HAMYLTON, S. M., PESCUD, A., LEON, J. X. & CALLAGHAN, D. P. 2013. A geospatial assessment of the relationship between reef flat community calcium carbonate production and wave energy. Coral Reefs, 32, 1025-1039.

LEON J.X., HEUVELINK G.B.M., PHINN S.R. (2014) Incorporating DEM uncertainty in coastal inundation mapping. PLOS One 9(9): e108727. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108727.

LEON, J. X. & WOODROFFE, C. D. 2013. Morphological characterisation of reef types in Torres Strait and an assessment of their carbonate production. Marine Geology, 338, 64-75.

LEON, J. X., PHINN, S. R., HAMYLTON, S. & SAUNDERS, M. I. 2012a. A 20 m spatial resolution seamless multisource Digital Elevation/Depth Model for Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Pangaea.

LEON, J. X., PHINN, S. R., HAMYLTON, S. M. & SAUNDERS, M. I. 2013b. Filling the ‘white ribbon’ – a multisource seamless digital elevation model for Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 1-18.

LEON, J. X., ROELFSEMA, C. M., SAUNDERS, M. I. & PHINN, S. R. In revision-a. Measuring coral reef terrain roughness from a very high resolution digital terrain model derived from close-range digital photogrammetry. Geomorphology.

MILLS, M., J. X. LEON, M. I. SAUNDERS, J. BELL, Y. LIU, J. O'MARA, C. E. LOVELOCK, P. J. MUMBY, S. PHINN, AND H. P. POSSINGHAM. 2015. Reconciling development and conservation under coastal squeeze from rising sea‚Äźlevel. Conservation Letters. Accepted September 2015.

MILLS, M., R. L. PRESSEY, R. WEEKS, M. GLEASON, R.L. EISMA-OSORIO, T. MORRISON, A. T. LOMBARD, J. M. HARRIS, A. WHITE, A. B. KILMER AND M. 2014. Knight. Real-world progress in overcoming the challenges of adaptive spatial planning in marine protected areas. Biological Conservation 181:54-63.

MILLS M., S. NICOL, J.A. WELLS, J. J. LAHOZ-MONFORT, B. WINTLE, M. BODE, E. MCDONALD-MADDEN, M. WARDROP, T. WALSHE, W. J. M. PROBERT, M. RUNGE, AND H. P. POSSINGHAM. Minimizing the cost of keeping options open for Conservation in a Changing Climate. Conservation Biology 28:646-653.

PRESSEY, R., MILLS, M., WEEKS, R. & DAY, J. 2013. The plan of the day: Managing the dynamic transition from regional conservation designs to local conservation actions. Biological Conservation, 166, 155-169.

ROELFSEMA, C., KOVACS, E. M., SAUNDERS, M. I., PHINN, S., LYONS, M. B. & MAXWELL, P. 2013. Challenges of remote sensing for quantifying changes in large complex seagrass environments. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 133, 161-171.

SAUNDERS, M. I., LEON, J. X., PHINN, S. R., CALLAGHAN, D. P., O'BRIEN, K. R., ROELFSEMA, C. M., LOVELOCK, C. E., LYONS, M. B. & MUMBY, P. J. 2013. Coastal retreat and improved water quality mitigate losses of seagrass from sea level rise. Global Change Biology, 19, 2569-2583.

SAUNDERS[JB1] , M. I., BALDOCK, T. E., BROWN, C. J., CALLAGHAN, D. P., GOLSHANI, A., HAMYLTON, S. M., HOEGH-GULDBERG, O., LEON, J. X., LOVELOCK, C. E., MUMBY, P. J., PHINN, S. R., ROELFSEMA, C. M. & WOODROFFE, C. D. 2014. Interdependency of tropical marine ecosystems in response to climate change. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2274.

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