SEQ climate adaptation research a national first

By June 19th, 2009

Identifying practical ways for South East Queensland (SEQ) to respond to the impacts of climate change is the focus of a new AU$14 million research initiative announced today.

CSIRO’s Dr Ryan McAllister – who leads a team of researchers from the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, Griffith University, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and the University of Queensland – said the research will examine SEQ’s vulnerability to climate change, as well as potential opportunities, and identify practical, cost-effective ways to help the region adapt.

“This is Australia’s first comprehensive regional study of climate change adaptation, and one of just a few worldwide,” Dr McAllister said.

“SEQ is Australia’s fastest growing region and its population and coastal location make it particularly vulnerable to climate change.

“However, adapting to climate change may also bring economic and social opportunities, so we need to identify and prepare to take advantage of those as well.”

The three-year project will develop new, local-scale climate change projections and vulnerability assessments to help SEQ prepare for the impact of altered rainfall patterns, increased temperatures and extreme weather on its property and infrastructure, unique ecosystems and primary industries.

“This is Australia’s first comprehensive regional study of climate change adaptation, and one of just a few worldwide.”

Dr Ryan McAllister said.

Griffith University’s Professor Jan McDonald said adapting to climate change demands a rethink of the way we design, build and manage regions like SEQ.

“There are simple steps for adapting, like improving stormwater systems to reduce flooding and building homes above flood levels or well behind erosion lines, but at the larger regional or industry sector scale we need more sophisticated strategies,” Professor McDonald said.

As part of the initiative, researchers will work closely with all three levels of government, community groups and representatives of the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure, environment, public health and emergency services sectors.

Professor Tim Smith, of University of the Sunshine Coast, said a key consideration will be assessing the capacity of individuals and industry sectors to adapt.

“Understanding our capacity to adapt, and potential barriers to adaptation, is a crucial step to knowing which strategies will be feasible,” Professor Smith said.

The South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative (SEQ-CARI) is supported by funding from the Queensland Government Smart State Innovation Fund, the Australian Department of Climate Change, and the CSIRO National Research Flagship Collaboration Fund.

National Research Flagships

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

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