Can the gold coast beaches withstand extreme events?
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The Gold Coast sandy beaches of Queensland (Australia) are exposed to energetic wave conditions. Storms, particularly tropical cyclones, have a high potential of destruction. The Gold Coast has not experienced excessive erosive events over the past 30 years. However, some climate indicators suggest that cyclone frequency is likely to increase in response to global climate change within the near future. Over a 2-month period in early 2006, beach surveys were undertaken with a theodolite total station at four different sites. Offshore wave conditions were provided by SWAN regional wave modelling. During this study, the Gold Coast was exposed to three major storms, the first one being the second most energetic over the past 30 years. Results show a substantial variability of the beach response to these events along the Gold Coast, and that engineering structures do not have marked effects. Easterly swells have the greatest impact on the Gold Coast sub-aerial beach morphology. When low wave-energy conditions prevail, the southern Gold Coast beaches recover more quickly than the northern ones, as they are sheltered from high SE waves and draw advantage from the artificial sand bypassing system. Nevertheless, the datashow that the Gold Coast beaches are exceedingly fragile. For instance, the early March decadal event considerably weakened the beaches, which resulted in surprisingly high erosion rates all along the Gold Coast during the two following annual wave events. This study suggests that the Gold Coast beaches would not be able to withstand the impact of an increased frequency of extreme events similar in scale to those of 1967.
Geo-Marine Letters: an international journal of marine geology
Copyright 2008 Springer-Verlag. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com