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Mapping Sydney

A vulnerability assessment released today by CSIRO and the Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) will help Sydney coastal councils understand their vulnerability to climate change and prepare to adapt to potential impacts.

“The consequences of climate change in Sydney’s coastal region will be driven as much by socio-economic factors and decision making as by climate hazards such as heat waves and storm surges,” says research leader Dr Benjamin Preston, from the CSIRO Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship.

“Different areas of Sydney will experience climate change in different ways depending on their geographic location, demographics, and the resources and tools at their disposal to manage future climate change risk,” Dr Preston says.

The three-phase project began by using climate change projections and socio-economic data to generate maps of vulnerability to five climate change impacts: extreme heat and health effects; sea-level rise and coastal management; extreme rainfall and storm-water management; bushfires; and ecosystems and natural resources.

These maps were used in ‘stakeholder’ workshops with all 15 SCCG member councils that were designed to improve researchers’ and the councils’ understanding of the causes and potential impacts of those changes.

“By combining our vulnerability assessment with councils’ own knowledge and risk management experience, we can advance the thinking on the implications of climate change and what will be needed for communities to respond,”
Dr Preston says.“By combining our vulnerability assessment with councils’ own knowledge and risk management experience, we can advance the thinking on the implications of climate change and what will be needed for communities to respond,” Dr Preston says.

The project’s final phase – a series of case studies based on the vulnerability assessment and council stakeholder workshops – aims to identify the factors that influence councils’ capacity to respond to climate change.

This analysis will study institutional issues affecting adaptation – decision making processes, planning schemes, community aspirations and infrastructure demands – to help councils adapt to climate change through future management decisions.

“This vulnerability assessment is an essential first stage in a journey to better understand the potential impacts of climate change on the region, and move towards more effective and adaptive management,” says SCCG executive officer Geoff Withycombe.

The research was funded under the Australian Government Department of Climate Change’s Adaptation program, in collaboration with the University of the Sunshine Coast.