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Sydney hosts global conference on managing coastlines

7 March 2016

Expert academics are here for the International Coastal Symposium (ICS), a biennial global event, hosted this year in Coogee. 

Photo of a the coast at One Tree Island, home to a University of Sydney marine science research station.

The symposium will discuss how beaches evolve and respond to coastal erosion.

The symposium will showcase the University of Sydney’s Geocoastal Research Group (formerly the Coastal Studies Unit) which has led the world in beach morphodynamics: the study of how beaches evolve and respond to coastal erosion. The group has been monitoring day-to-day changes on Australian beaches for more than 40 years, giving it one of the most extensive beach morphodynamic data sets available. This data is used globally by scientists investigating morphodynamics.

Keynote addresses at the symposium include:

·         Professor Andy Short and Professor Bruce Thom talking about how we can best study coasts and their erosion, and how we adapt coastal management practices to mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on our beaches;

·         Dr Janice Lough will talk about what a changing climate means for Australia’s coral reefs; and

·         Associate Professor Giovanni Coco addressing broader ecological issues beyond beaches, focussing particularly on the long term prospects for estuaries, salt marshes and mangroves. 

Australia more than most countries needs to understand how to sustainably manage its beaches and surrounding oceans.
Associate Professor Ana Vila Concejo, School of Geosciences

The co-leader of the Geocoastal Research Group and the first woman to chair the ICS, Associate Professor Ana Vila Concejo said the symposium highlights the importance of continuing to show anthropogenic climate change is damaging the marine environment while also looking for ways to mitigate its impact.

“We need to know what we’re trying to adapt to before we offer scientifically robust suggestions about how to adapt,” she said. “Delegates attending the conference also continue to play a role building impetus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“With almost 85 percent of our population living within 50 kilometres of the coastline, Australia more than most countries needs to understand how to sustainably manage our beaches and surrounding oceans.”

“The people of Sydney have had a close relationship with its coastlines for thousands of years, as a source of food and a place to congregate,” said the head of the University’s School of Geosciences Professor Phil McManus. “It’s a fitting place to host world leading research on coastal processes and issues.”

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