THE state government has announced it will fund a $300,000 three-year research project to help save the Gold Coast’s iconic beaches from extreme weather events.
The funding is part of the $9.85 million awarded by the Palaszczuk Government to 53 researchers under the Advance Queensland Research Fellowship and PhD Scholarship programs.
Griffith University’s Centre for Coastal Management Research Manager Dr Darrell Strauss was selected to lead the three-year project under the Advance Queensland Research Fellowship program.
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His research will be conducted on Gold Coast beaches in partnership with the City of Gold Coast.
Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Gold Coast’s combined tourism and surfing industries are worth an estimated $7.5 billion to the city annually and attract around 11.5 million visitors.
“In any given year, Queensland is exposed to a range of natural disasters including cyclones, dangerous storms and floods – especially in tropical environments,” Ms Enoch said.
“Our beaches can become vulnerable to coastal erosion and tidal inundation, so it’s important we have sustainable coastal management solutions in place to preserve our precious coastal areas.
“This project looks at how we build resilience and manage climate risk for Queensland beaches, particularly in extreme weather events.
“This project has the potential to make a real difference by protecting our beaches now and into the future.
“It will also help inform best practice strategies for other similar coastal regions such as northern New South Wales, and other sandy, wave-dominated urban coastlines throughout the world.”
Dr Strauss is currently working to develop an efficient way to protect shorelines against beach erosion by pumping sand into nearshore zones.
“The Queensland coast is exposed to a wide range of different wave heights and directions, so the beaches are constantly changing their shape,” Dr Strauss said.
“Erosion events have always gained a lot of interest, however, measurements and understanding of recovery rates and impacts of artificial beach replenishments are still scarce.
“During periods of increased storm activity, coastal areas are more likely to experience several storm events in a short amount of time, reducing the time for natural beach recovery between events.
“This is when we see the biggest threat to coastal infrastructure through erosion of our natural barriers.
“My research will focus on more efficient sand placement strategies to reduce operational costs and the frequency of repeated beach nourishment campaigns.”
Dr Strauss began his PhD research in 2004, looking at how Gold Coast beaches respond to different wave events, and has since published 27 academic reports on coastal management, monitoring and engineering.
“I’m working with state and local government, and coastal communities, to conduct research that supports sustainable coastal management solutions now and into the future,” he said.
“There are many challenges ahead with ever increasing pressure on our precious coasts and an uncertain future climate.
“Queensland is world famous for its beaches and they represent a major tourism and residential growth drawcard.
“We have seen previously how major erosion events have impacted the region economically, so maintaining healthy beaches is of significant importance to the existence and growth of local industries.”
The Palaszczuk Government says the fellowship program will assist in attracting and keeping the best and brightest research minds in Queensland, and will build Queensland’s capacity to conduct innovative research and development.
For more information about the Advance Queensland Research Fellowships visit the Advance Queensland website.