More than 250 scientists from the United Nation's chief science body are gathering in the Tasmanian city of Hobart this week to discuss the science of global warming before the release of their fifth paper later this year. They're warning more frequent extreme weather and hotter days are likely, as the planet warms.
Presenter: Sarah Clarke
Speaker: Alan Stokes, National Seachange Taskforce; John Church, CSIRO; Lex Bell, Gold Coast Councillor
CLARKE. The beach is synonymous with holidays in Australia. Not only do we flock to the coast for a break, but more than 3 quarters of Australians permanently live near the ocean.
STOKES. "We like to live as close to it, we like to spend our holidays there and we like to spend xmas holidays there as we are a the moment"
CLARKE. Alan Stokes is from the National Seachange taskforce. He also lives near the water in one of the harbourside suburbs in Sydney but he has concerns about the future of this kind of coastal living.
STOKES. "If the climate science is right and that's that, we can expect a sea level rise of somewhere between 80cm and 1.1 metres by the year 2100 that lifestyle is under threat.
also under threat are the properties that are going to be developed in vulnerable areas along the coast which are being approved at the moment in states all around Australia".
CLARKE. Rising sea levels are a result of melting glaciers, and according to some of the most recent peer-reviewed reports, the melt is accelerating. John Church is from the CSIRO's and a lead author on sealevel rise for the UN's chief science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
CHURCH. "The greenland ice sheet is increasing its surface melt, if we are to avoid some of the extreme scenarios, to avoid the complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet, it's urgent that we start mitigating or reducing emissions significantly and in a sustained way into the future".
CLARKE. The Climate Commission has done modelling on a sea level rise above 1 metre by the turn of the centuary around Australia's coastline. And it warns up to 250 thousand homes could potentially be exposed to inundation.. In Sydney, it forecasts runways at the main domestic airport could be inundated and terminals flooded. In Brisbane, homes in inner city surburbs like Windsor and Albion may go underwater. It's the same for other cities like Melbourne where areas St Kilda and Elwood are submerged. Alan Stokes from the National Seachange Taskforce says while some residents aren't fussed by the new potential water front living, others are trying to sell.
STOKES. "I've heard people wanting to sell up and trying to sell up buy finding that the market suddenly isnt working with them that the values of the property have dropped.
CLARKE. The Gold coast is a key example of a major city centre that typifies oceanfront living. It's got plans in place to guard against a 27 centimetre sea level rise. But councillor Lex Bell says the council's yet to go any higher.
BELL. "We're sitting back and monitoring the situation but we're not panicking".
CLARKE. So should communities retreat or defend the coastline? As it stands there's no national benchmark on minimum sea level rise that's binding on the states. With around 300 billion dollars worth of commercial building, infrastructure and homes potentially at stake, climate scientists are urging all governments to take note.