Wave measurement network to understand climate change impact to Victorian coasts
A new wave measurement network will provide real-time data to help study the effect of climate change on the Victorian coastline.
In collaboration with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, researchers from the University of Melbourne and Deakin University have set up a network of wave buoys off Victoria’s open coast.
How Data is Collected
Along Wilson’s Promontory, Cape Bridgewater and Lakes Entrance, large Triaxys buoys are set up. These buoys are 0.9m in diameter and measure currents throughout the water column.
Closer to shore, SOFAR spotter buoys use GPS positioning to measure wave motion. These buoys help to understand how deep water waves are transformed as they approach the shore.
Latest Data Collected by Cape Bridgewater Buoys
Data from these buoys, as shown in the above figure will inform decision making to reduce the impact of climate change in coastal areas.
How Data Will be Used
“Climate change, rising sea levels and extreme storms may alter how waves impact 50 per cent of the world’s coastlines. Data from this network will help to record such changes and prepare better future strategies,” said University of Melbourne Professor Ian Young, one of the lead researchers of this project.
“Our studies have shown that ocean waves in the Southern Ocean are increasing in size demanding an urgent need to understand ocean wave dynamics and its effect on Victorian coastal erosion,” said Professor Young.
The research team also uses the network to validate computer models which forecast wave conditions along the Victorian coast. The live network is also seeing uptake by the broader community such as surfers and emergency services.
“The wave data combined with time-series imagery of beaches provides important insights to beach dynamics.”
“Waves are also an important driver of the biology we see in our oceans. Waves combined with the shape and geometry of the seabed can drive the distribution of different habitats we encounter like kelp forests and seagrass beds. A changing wave climate will impact these marine habitats, influencing the fisheries they support. ” said Associate Professor Ierodiaconou.
The Victorian Government is funding this study as part of predicting the impacts of climate change on Victorian coasts.