Northern NSW beaches could experience increased erosion, according to research published in Nature Geoscience journal.
Northern NSW beaches could experience increased erosion, according to research published in Nature Geoscience journal. Contributed

Intense weather patterns could lead to more beach erosion

BEACHES in Northern NSW could be in the firing line over the coming decades if climate change modelling predictions prove correct.

Research has found some of the region's most popular beaches could experience increased erosion from intensifying weather patterns.

It means Northern NSW councils may have to review their coastal management plans over the coming decades to incorporate the new research.

The research, published in Nature Geoscience journal, has linked beach erosion with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation - responsible for producing the El Nino and La Nina weather patterns.

Research co-author, Professor Andrew Short, said it showed for the first time the powerful weather pattern played a significant role in beach erosion.

He said councils could need to start planning for increased, and more intensive, beach erosion events.

"We are certainly in a position where we can start planning for this now," he said.

"The research showed current hazard lines would need to be moved further inland so it did not cause damage to property and infrastructure in the future.

"This is not happening now but will start to occur in the coming decades."

The coastal village of Wooli.
The coastal village of Wooli. The Daily Examiner

Griffith University's Centre for Coastal Management director Professor Rodger Tomlinson said the erosion issue at Wooli, near Grafton, had been a long-term one.

He said there was not really a big erosion issue at beaches in Northern NSW when compared with other areas across the nation.

"What we are seeing at Wooli is consistent with typical coastal erosion," he said.

"It is not unusual, but it is an area that could be under long-term pressure.

"There has been an ongoing issue at Byron Bay, but that has more to do with a 1980s development scheme.

"Those issues have been subjected to numerous court actions which are extremely complexed."

Ballina Mayor David Wright said beaches across his region did not have a big erosion issue, but said some erosion occurred during big weather events.

"Beach erosion is not an issue for us at the moment," he said.

"Our biggest problem is the sand getting into the rivers and creeks, and that is something we are currently addressing.

"We have had small amounts of beach erosion occur, but nothing all that major."