F**king up my grandchildren’s beaches

Brilliant SMH/Age science journo Peter Hannam wrote yesterday about a highly technical article just out from Griffith Uni researchers Joao Morin, Mark Herner, and Fernando Andutta. Here’s the original article. $8 for a layperson to even rent it out, with no means of storing it for future re-evaluation, is too expensive, so I’m reliant on Hannam’s interpretation and analysis, but that’s good enough for me because this research is stunningly difficult and still most uncertain. The conclusions refer to end-of-century unabated-emissions assumptions – call them imprecise! – but it’s the best we can do.

Here’s the Hannam skinny as crudely restated by me. Over the century warming-world-induced stronger winds mean that the nastier big ocean waves will occur 5-15% more often and will be 5-15% nastier and will shift direction. The reason I’m interested is that annual sea level rises of a few millimeters won’t soon swamp my hometown of Melbourne. But what seems to also happen is more frequent, more vicious storm-like surges that f**k up a shoreline as “oncer” events. The Griffith Uni tyros predict bigger whacks more often. Different surge directions in particular redistribute sand and shoreline in big licks. It seems North Atlantic shorelines might be pummelled less while my southern Australian beaches will change or vanish.

By itself this is all frustratingly vague to me – will shores near my grandchildren be inundated over, say, a decade or two? – but that’s the complexity our scientist-heroes face.

And Hannam points to a NSW coastal weather warning for “dangerous” and “rather rare” surges over the three days from tomorrow. Will Victorian beaches wilt similarly? My weather forecast checks don’t clarify but I’ve asked someone in the know and will watch out.