Birkbeck geographer to investigate Australia’s vulnerability to sea level rise

Dr Sue Brooks is part of an international team which will research Australian coastal vulnerabilities, made possible by a prestigious Australian Research Council Discovery Project award.

Picture caption: Beach on Hinchinbrook Island, Northern Queensland, as seen from a drone.

Dr Sue Brooks from Birkbeck’s Department of Geography will be part of an international research team studying the coastal zone of Australia to better understand vulnerability to sea level rise. This comes as a result of a successful bid for an Australian Research Council Discovery Project award, led by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

This prestigious award, worth A$324,000, will enable knowledge transfer and exchange between Australia and the UK, with the aim of reducing coastal vulnerability to sea level rise. If sea level rises are not contained, they could cause major geographic and environmental hazards to the coasts and surrounding areas.

13% of the Australian population live along the low elevation coastal zone of the country, and the zone is therefore subject to intensive agriculture and urbanisation. Dr Brooks said: “Accelerating sea level rise is a major societal concern and its impacts on shorelines must be accurately determined.

“This Australian-UK collaboration aims to improve Australia's capacity to predict changing shoreline position with sea level rise, better understand the role of vegetation in foreshore stabilisation and identify under what conditions the shoreline might suddenly shift landwards.”

Alongside Brooks, Professor Tom Spencer and Dr Iris Möller from the University of Cambridge are also contributing to the project, which is led by Dr Ruth Reef from Monash University.

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