More than 80,000 buildings on Victoria's coast at risk from rising sea levels, extreme weather
MORE than 80,000 buildings on Victoria's coast will be at risk from the ravages of rising sea levels and extreme weather.
The Western Port region is especially vulnerable amid estimates that 18,000 properties valued at almost $2 billion are in the danger zone.
And the effects of storm surges, heatwaves and insect-borne diseases associated with climate change are likely to increase the nation's mortality rate.
The alarming forecasts emerged last night in a new report tabled in Federal Parliament by the all-party House of Representatives Climate Change, Environment, Water and the Arts Committee.
Titled Managing our Coastal Zone in a Changing Climate: the Time to Act is Now, the 368-page report urged the Federal Government to take greater charge of protecting the nation's coastline in co-operation with state and local governments.
It is estimated 80 per cent of Australia's population lives in coastal areas and 711,000 addresses lie within 3km of the coast and less than 6m above sea level.
Expert evidence to the committee estimated one metre of sea level rise this century - the upper limit of expectations - would drive the shoreline back 50-100m, depending on local wind, wave and topographical features.
Taking a more realistic mid-range projection of half a metre for this century, it considered shoreline recession of 25m to 50m.
Combining the effects of rising sea levels, melting polar ice, higher ocean temperatures and changing ocean currents, the report cited Climate Change Department projections for Victoria.
"More than 80,000 coastal buildings and infrastructure are at risk from the projected sea level rise, coastal flooding and erosion," the department said.
"Sea level rise, more frequent and severe storm surges will damage the coastal environment and coastal infrastructure in the Western Port region.
"Eighteen per cent of the Western Port region is likely to be affected by inundation or overland flow path. It is estimated that 18,000 properties, valued at almost $2 billion, are vulnerable to flood events."
What is classified as a one-in-100-year storm surge is likely, by 2070, to happen every one to four years in Victoria.
The report praised Victoria's coastal strategy for integrating social as well as environmental effects of climate change and rising sea levels.