With around 85% of Australia's population living in the coastal zone, rising sea levels and storm surges will have significant impacts on many of our coastal towns and cities.
Understanding the risks to infrastructure and private property is particularly important for highly populated urban areas.
The Australian Government has developed a series of initial sea level rise maps to illustrate the potential impacts of climate change for key urban areas. You can access the maps by selecting a region in the box on the right, or by clicking on the map below.
The maps have been prepared by combining a sea level rise value with a high tide value. They illustrate an event that could be expected to occur at least once a year, but possibly more frequently, around the year 2100.
Maps are available to show three sea level rise scenarios: low sea level rise (0.5m), medium sea level rise (0.8m) and high sea level rise (1.1m). These sea level rise scenarios are for a 2100 period, relative to 1990. The sea level rise values are based on IPCC projections (B1 and A1FI scenarios) and more recent science (see information on the right).
The low scenario represents sea level rise that is likely to be unavoidable. The medium scenario is in line with recent global emissions and observations of sea level rise. The high end scenario considers the possible high-end risk identified in 4th Assessment Report (AR4) and includes new evidence on icesheet dynamics published since 2006 and after AR4. The sea level rise values were based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections and more recent science and observations.
The maps are based on a simple modelling approach and should be considered as approximate only. The actual impacts may vary as this model does not take account of existing sea walls, storm surge, erosion or other local factors, and it does not include consideration of any future protective action that may be taken.
Figure 1. Urban areas where sea level rise maps are available
If you have questions about coastal climate change please contact:
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
The three scenarios developed by CSIRO for sea level rise between 2030-2100 (relative to 1990) are presented below.
The low scenario (B1): considers sea-level rise in the context of a global agreement which brings about dramatic reductions in global emissions and represents the upper end of the range for sea-level rise by 2100 which is likely to be unavoidable.
The medium scenario (A1FI): Represents the upper end of IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4) A1FI projections and is in line with recent global emissions and observations of sea-level rise.
The high-end scenario: considers the possible high end risk identified in the AR4 and more specifically in post IPCC AR4 research. This scenario factors in recent publications that explore the impacts of recent warming trends on ice sheet dynamics beyond those already included in the IPCC projections.
Table: Three global sea-level rise scenarios, 2030-2100 (metres)