RGSQ Lecture Series
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Dr Javier Leon
Image credit: Drone image looking across Burgess Creek, Sunrise beach. Source: Javier Leon
The capacity of sandy beaches to provide coastal protection varies across time and space. Recent research suggests climate change could result in substantial erosion of most sandy beaches by the end of the century, with significant social and economic impacts. Furthermore, storm and cyclone events generate extreme erosion of sandy beaches which is not fully recovered. Three back-to-back La Nina events occurred between 2020-2023. La Niña is associated with warmer waters in the western Pacific Ocean, which increase storminess off Australia’s east coast. Chances of a higher number of tropical cyclones increase, as do the chances of cyclones travelling further south and further inland, and of more frequent passages of east coast lows. Detailed (3 cm spatial resolution) and frequent (monthly or bimonthly) drone and ground-based volumetric surveys were undertaken during this period along the open beaches between Peregian Beach and Sunshine Beach with the aim of monitoring coastal change along the shoreline and dunes. Results are variable and indicate average shoreline erosion of around 20 m, dune crest retreat of up to 10 m and dune erosion of up to 3 m vertically on some locations. Frequent, high-quality 4D spatial information (3D plus time) across the coastal zone is required to monitor, manage and predict coastal change and its associated hazards. Building an understanding of coastal response to both gradual and extreme events is especially critical in an era of progressively rising sea levels which are likely to exacerbate already existing trends.
About the presenter
Dr Javier Leon is a geographer with broad interests in geomorphology and is particularly interested in the study and management of coastal systems including sandy beaches and coral reefs. He has developed and collaborated in multidisciplinary research projects combining field data, geospatial techniques and modelling in study sites across the Great Barrier Reef and Eastern coast of Australia and Pacific Islands including Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. His aim is to answer questions related to links between morphology, ecology and management in the current changing climate and sea-level rise context.
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Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young PSM, Governor of Queensland