SEA LEVELS RISING: Online mapping from climate group Coastal Risk Australia forecast widespread flooding in Gladstone if sea levels rise 74cm. CRA
SEA LEVELS RISING: Online mapping from climate group Coastal Risk Australia forecast widespread flooding in Gladstone if sea levels rise 74cm. CRA Declan Cooley

The Gladstone suburbs that will become islands

YOU can kiss goodbye to large swaths of land in the Gladstone region if sea levels rise by more than 74cm.

Website Coastal Risk Australia produced an online map this month showing the areas that would be underwater if sea levels were to rise by 74cm by the year 2100.

According to oceanographer Dr Paul Spence --- who works at the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science --- the independent organisation's forecasts are reasonable, locked in and do not account for catastrophic changes in the event of Antarctic glacial melting.

Their predictions show that certain areas in Gladstone would enjoy waterfront views while others would require scuba gear to live.

Places at risk include all three LNG gas plants, Heron Island, large areas along the banks of the Boyne River, South Trees, Barney Point and parts of Gladstone Central.

Areas close to Millennium Esplanade, Turtle Way, Canoe Point Botanic Reserve, St Francis Primary School, Sandpiper Park, Langdon St, Blackwell St, Schooner St and Riverside Rd would have salty water lapping within spitting distance.

Parts of Tarcoola Dr, Polmaise St, Wyndham Av, Gladstone Benaraby Rd, Yarralla St, Bell St, O'Connell St, Central Ln and Glenlyon Rd would be covered by water.

 

BOYNE RIVER: Areas close to the Boyne River will be in line for waterfront views. CRA.
BOYNE RIVER: Areas close to the Boyne River will be in line for waterfront views. CRA. Declan Cooley

 

"From the 1850s sea levels have risen 10cm already and going into the future the conservative range is up to 50cm by 2100 but that's excluding any contribution from glaciers," Dr Spence said.

"If Antarctic glaciers melt you could easily add one metre on top of that but that's where the big uncertainty is. It could be way worse."

Dr Spence said the scariest thing about the sea levels rising was that "we're already locked in at that level just from the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere."

"The amount of the Antarctic contribution is very worrying just with how quickly the ice is moving but we don't understand what's causing it," he said.

"If you're looking at a real estate investment…I'd make sure it's two metres above sea levels."

2100 SNAPSHOT: CRA forecasts show the potential for rising sea levels to encroach on all three LNG plants on Curtis Island. CRA.
2100 SNAPSHOT: CRA forecasts show the potential for rising sea levels to encroach on all three LNG plants on Curtis Island. CRA. Declan Cooley

A study published last week in Nature found that continued growth in greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades could set off a collapse of Antarctica's ice, which would raise sea levels by more than a metre by 2100 and more than 15m by 2500.

CRA sea level mapping used three scenarios to spell out the danger to Australian shores.

The first scenario considers sea level rise in the context of a global agreement which would see a reduction in global emissions and sea levels rise by 44cm by 2100.

The second and third scenarios would have median sea level rises of 53cm and 74cm by 2100, respectively.

Climate change scientist Alvin Stone from ARC said rising sea levels was like a slow moving giant that would take "a hell of a lot of momentum to keep it from rising in the long term".

The owner of Boyne Island Motel and Villas, Helen Grant, whose business would be flooded by 2100 according to CRA forecasts, wasn't overly concerned.

"I'll be six foot under by 2100," Mrs Grant said. "At the moment we're not right on the beach but I could see how we would be in the firing line. I'd be more concerned for the houses right on the water."

Mrs Grant --- who moved to Boyne two years ago to run the motel --- said she wasn't concerned about sea levels rising when she took over the lease, however she did look into localised flooding and felt assured she would not be affected.

Mrs Grant thought that given the seriousness of the potential impact of sea levels rising, Gladstone Regional Council should put money aside to fix any problems that may arise from permanent flooding. "If it's a concern council should put plans in place given how expensive rates are," she said.

Mrs Grant pays $28,000 a year in rates.

An Insurance Council of Australia spokesman said home insurance policies typically do not cover damage caused by actions of the sea, such as king tides or storm surges.

"Gradual sea level rise is not a hazard that is contemplated under home building insurance policies, and the Insurance Council of Australia is not aware of any insurer that covers this risk," the spokesman said.

"It is important to note that home insurance policyholders do not pay a premium for risks that are not covered in their policy."



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