Protection of the Gold Coast’s beaches and coastal zones have been given a $600,000 boost from an Australian Research Council grant making it the focal point for national beach management strategies.

Lead investigator Professor Rodger Tomlinson, Director of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, said the funding would allow for specialist equipment to be installed on the Gold Coast to better understand the big picture of weather events, climate change and manmade structures and how they impacted on cities.

“The Gold Coast has some of the best data sets in the country but there are still major gaps in the understanding of coastal processes, including the effects of climate variability and change,” said Professor Tomlinson.

“This will help decision-makers to reduce the risk to coastal communities, coastal ecosystems and maritime operations from extreme storms, climate change, infrastructure development and urbanisation.

“It also opens the door for a national collaboration to understand these coastal processes along the eastern seaboard.”

Validating computer modelling

The data will be used to validate computer modelling, which in turn will help state and local authorities with planning and protection of man made assets and infrastructure.

The funding is expected to cover the cost of about 20 pieces of equipment, to be deployed into the coastal ocean out to about 50 metres in depth, which will measure waves, tides, currents, seabed and beach profiles and sediment characteristics.

The ARC funded Coastal Engineering Research Field Station Project’s partners include Griffith University, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority, University of Queensland and the University of Newcastle.

“So much is happening in the coastal zone whether it be ocean outfalls, beach nourishment programs or coastal protection structures, that we need to collect a coherent data set of those processes so that we can understand it,” said Professor Tomlinson

“This leads back into better models and decision making. It’s fundamental research about coastal behaviour.”

The information will assist the Gold Coast Waterways Authority, which controls the sand bypassing system and management of the Gold Coast Seaway as well as navigation.

“Some of the modules are mobile and can be moved to other locations, so it becomes a national facility,” said Professor Tomlinson.

Good management of coastal zones

“This infrastructure will really support good management of our coastal zones but equally gives us some fundamental information from a research point of view.

“It’s focussed here on the Gold Coast because there is a government waverider buoy out there which give us wave measurements and Gold Coast Waterways Authority has the sandpumping jetty at The Spit, which is a fantastic platform to establish a base station and communication hub.”

The management team will include Professor Tomlinson, Professor Tom Baldock of University of Queensland and Mr Brian McRae of the Gold Coast Waterways Authority.

Professor Tomlinson is also behind a 50-year plan designed for the City of Gold Coast to protect the beaches, people and economy of the Gold Coast.

His research and development of 77 recommendations underpin the Gold Coast Shoreline Management Plan for the sustainable management and enhancement of the city’s 52km of beaches.

The research field station project’s project is funded under the 2017 Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities grants administered by the Australian Research Council.

The project is one of 30 Griffith studies receiving a share of $11.5 million in funding from the ARC this week