Shifting storms to bring extreme waves, seaside damage to once placid areas

Sea level rise no longer the only impact climate change will bring to the world’s coastlines

From Eurekalert

Public Release: 20-Jul-2017

University of New South Wales


IMAGE: This is an aerial view of Sydney’s Collaroy Beach on 6 June 2016, the day after the ‘superstorm’. Credit: Christopher Drummond/UNSW

The world’s most extensive study of a major stormfront striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before.

The study, led by engineers at University of New South Wales in Sydney, was published in the latest issue of the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

“If you have waterfront property or infrastructure that has previously been sheltered from the impacts of extreme waves, this is worrying news” said Mitchell Harley, lead author and a senior research associate at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory (WRL). “What this study confirms, is that simply by changing direction, storms can be many times more devastating. And that’s what we’re facing in many locations as the climate continues to change.”

Ian Turner, director of WRL and a co-author, said sea level rise was no longer the only factor at play when preparing for the impact of climate change on waterfront areas. “Shifts in storm patterns and wave direction will also have major consequences, because they distort and amplify the natural variability of coastal patterns.”

The study relied on data collected during the June 2016 ‘superstorm’ that battered eastern Australia, one of the fiercest in decades; it inundated towns, smashed buildings, swept away cars and infrastructure and triggered hundreds of evacuations across a 3,000 km swathe from Queensland in the north all the way to Tasmania in the south. Three people died and there were more than 80 rescues from stranded cars.

A week before the storm hit, and for many weeks afterwards, the researchers used a fleet of drones, floating sensor buoys, aircraft fitted with LiDAR laser ranging sensors, fixed cameras on buildings and quadbikes and jetskis fitted with real-time satellite positioning across a 200 km swathe of the eastern seaboard. This produced the largest and most detailed pre- and post-storm coastline analysis ever done.

They found that 11.5 million cubic metres of sand was eroded from beaches across a 200 km stretch of Australia’s eastern seaboard in just the three days of the storm – the equivalent to filling the Melbourne Cricket Ground (capacity 100,000 people) to the brim with sand more than seven times.

This was similar to the amount of sand shifted on the U.S. east coast by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, which killed 233 people and caused US$75 billion in damage.

It is the damaging power of wave energy – and the disruption of long-established storm patterns due to climate change – that present a new danger. The June 2016 ‘superstorm’ that devastated Australia’s east coast was only moderately intense, equivalent to a 1-in-5 year event: however, it did hit from the highly unusual easterly direction.

“And that’s what’s really worrying,” said Turner. “The damage we saw from a moderately intense storm last year is a harbinger of what’s to come,” said Turner. “Climate change is not only raising the oceans and threatening foreshores, but making our coastlines much more vulnerable as the direction of incoming storms change.

“We need to be prepared,” he added. “Not just for the fact that what we consider as ‘king tides’ will be the norm within decades, but that the storms that strike the coast will come from unexpected directions, damaging coastal areas and infrastructure once thought safe from storm damage.”

Previous studies have estimated that sea level rise from climate change – of between 40 cm and 1 metre over the next century – could put $226 billion of infrastructure at risk in Australia alone. This includes road and rail, commercial and residential buildings and even light industrial buildings. But also threatened are 75 hospitals and health centres, 258 police, fire and ambulance stations, five power stations and 41 waste disposal facilities.

“When it comes to severe weather, a lot of the attention is paid to tropical storms like cyclones and hurricanes,” said Harley. “But this data highlights the amount of coastal damage that can occur with east-coast lows in Australia. Despite creating near hurricane-force winds, intense rain and large ocean waves of up to 9 meters, they are less worrisome to many people.”

Narrabeen Beach in Sydney experienced the most erosion seen in 40 years of monitoring – and 36% greater than the second-most erosive event in May 1997. But it was not the worst affected: “Although a swimming pool at Narrabeen became the iconic image of the June 2016 storm, the greatest erosion was actually seen at Nine Mile Beach, an unpopulated area just north of Forster,” added Harley. “And that was due to a localised focusing of wave energy.”

Coupled with a vast bank of data collected over the past 40 years at Narrabeen-Collaroy beaches – one of the world’s longest-running beach erosion monitoring programs – coastal engineers now have enough information to build models that can accurately predict the damage storms would do days before an event.

It would also provide a crucial insight into how climate change will interact with the long cycles of El Niño and La Niña, and predict coastal vulnerability from sea level rise and changing storm patterns in the decades ahead, said senior lecturer Kristen Splinter, an engineer and modelling specialist at WRL who deep-dives into the data to build predictive tools.

And not just for Australia, but for the world. “With this data, we can now construct accurate coastal erosion models, to predict damage days before a storm hits,” said Splinter. “It will also be pivotal in understanding the future effect of climate change on coastal variability around the world.”

Turner agreed: “This isn’t just about protecting beaches: billions of dollars’ worth of city infrastructure around the world is threatened by coastal erosion: buildings, roads, power and water utility corridors, sewerage lines – and this will only worsen as sea levels rise, causing storm tides to do more damage and reach deeper inland.”


The WRL team collected the reams of data with the help of staff from the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage and worked with UNSW’s School of Aviation. Other authors were Kristen Splinter, Matthew Phillips and Joshua Simmons from WRL; Michael Kinsela and David Hanslow from the Office of Environment and Heritage; the School of Aviation’s Jason Middleton and Peter Mumford; and Andrew Short from the University of Sydney.




UNSW’s Faculty of Engineering is the powerhouse of engineering research in Australia, comprising of nine schools, 32 research centres and participating or leading 10 Cooperative Research Centres. It is ranked in the world’s top 50 engineering faculties, and home to Australia’s largest cohort of engineering undergraduate, postgraduate, domestic and international students. UNSW itself and is ranked #1 in Australia for producing millionaires (#33 globally) and ranked #1 in Australia for graduates who create technology start-ups.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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July 21, 2017 12:03 pm

you know….they are gaming all of us
This is about as safe a bet as it gets… matter when or where a storm hits….they can claim they were right
….there’s always going to be something somewhere

Reply to  Latitude
July 21, 2017 12:48 pm

Can I ask a stupid question? Why does WUWT keep giving daylight to these fanciful alarmist rantings? Just like the political opinions of movie actors, this stuff should die a natural death at the earliest possible moment–through being IGNORED, not re-posted and debated. This is not legitimate “science,” it is journalistic GARBAGE aka “fake news!”

Fred van der Velden
Reply to  Goldrider
July 21, 2017 12:56 pm

Not a bad idea to be aware of these articles; at some point you’ll meet someone who has been influenced by it. Good to know then what it was about and you can respond accordingly.

Bryan A
Reply to  Goldrider
July 21, 2017 2:07 pm

Because if noone stands and says “The Emperor has no Clothes”, the Emporer will always think himself correct even though he was duped

john harmsworth
Reply to  Goldrider
July 21, 2017 3:22 pm

As always, the exception makes the rule. The vast majority of storms apparently come from a specific direction. Previous erosion and any protective work is reflective of that fact. Where I live, storms come from thew West at least 90% of the time. All my life this has been the case. About once every 6 or 7 years we get one from the East. That always means more moisture and is notable.
Are they trying to tell us that previous storms were somehow not “allowed” to come from another direction? This might be the stupidest of the many, many stupid Alarmist statements I have ever seen!

Leo Smith
Reply to  Goldrider
July 21, 2017 3:37 pm

Every rime I see an article that starts ‘climate change is causing’ I just click away, because by and large the climate isn’t really changing.
If there is one thing that happens when you get rather older than you care to mention its looking at the sunshine or the rain and remembering exactly the same weather when you first were aware of what weather was…
In my lifetime the worst two floods occurred in the 1950s. The hottest years in the 1970s. The highest wind in the 1980s.
And yet people assure me that everything is getting worse.

Reply to  Goldrider
July 21, 2017 8:23 pm

Leo + many. A few decades of experience tells us a lot. The millennials, unfortunately, by and large, buy the whole dang blob as they haven’t actually seen any climate change but they “believe”.

Reply to  Goldrider
July 22, 2017 1:13 pm

I am glad that WUWT posts these articles- I am also glad to have the rebuttal and responses by readers. Being an business analyst, not a scientist, I love the ammunition that the responses give me. I also like to read both sides of everything- it is good training in how to think for ones self… Thank you WUWT posters and responders!

Gerry, England
Reply to  Goldrider
July 22, 2017 2:55 pm

You should always try to know what your enemy is doing.

spangled drongo
Reply to  Latitude
July 21, 2017 6:04 pm

“you know….they are gaming all of us”
Absolutely, Lat. Witness the following:
“Narrabeen Beach in Sydney experienced the most erosion seen in 40 years of monitoring”
That’s because they haven’t been getting cyclones since 1976, when they used to get them regularly.
During that era over 40 years ago I spent many a night sandbagging ocean front houses on the east coast trying to stop them getting washed out to sea.
Since then those same houses have changed hands for tens of millions of dollars simply because people have foolishly forgotten what is normal weather on the east coast of Australia.

old white guy
Reply to  Latitude
July 22, 2017 7:45 am

build on a beach, build on a floodplain, build on the side of a hill, eventually something nasty will happen.

July 21, 2017 12:09 pm

Are storms getting more frequent? More intense? The report is curiously silent.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 21, 2017 12:29 pm

Beat me to it, Tom. If CAGW is responsible for the Atlantic hurricane severity and frequency for the past 10+ years, I and many other East Coast residents are eternally grateful for anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

el gordo
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 21, 2017 2:35 pm

Its a known fact that tropical cyclones in Australia have been on the wane since the start of the hiatus. This might just be a coincidence, but I’m warming to the theory that its a global cooling signal.

john harmsworth
Reply to  el gordo
July 21, 2017 3:26 pm

But like an aging boxer who has to use his brains instead of his raw ability to beat you, AGW knows to CHANGE UP! Suddenly it’s a southpaw! Look out! It’s worse than we thought! Bang! We never saw it coming and never had a chance! These idiots shouldn’t be allowed out without supervision.

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 21, 2017 3:34 pm

SHort answere, NO!
The NSW storm was simply unussual in the direction of waves it generated and which then were acting on a natural environment, the established beaches, which had been formed by waves and weather from a more SE direction. Of course it was going to have an unusual effect especially being a rather significant event in intesity.
This is your classic statistical beat up. This is the sort of crap that Micael Mann would zoom the analytical camera on to ‘prove’ we are all about to be beaten to death with the climate change hockey schtyk.
As a UNSW Faculty of Engineering graduate, this crap is just emabarrassing. It is just the sort of self promotion that has corrupted the integrity of so many research deoartments in universities all over the world. It is the thalidomide like outcome of what initially sounds like an innocuous good idea, ‘science communications’. Rephrase that as ‘science marketing’ then think tobacco, opiates, asbestos, sugar, salt, thalidomide etc and you get my drift.
Not so much ‘peer review’ or even mere ‘pal review’ as ‘pal pay review’. Science is on a very, very slippery slope. The sort of idiots that the Soviets once found useful have now formed a kind of hive mind in academia. The ex EPA staff antics is just the same hive mind at work when angry, the UNSW WRL stuff is just it doing its self appointed day job.

Reply to  Komrade Kuma
July 21, 2017 8:25 pm

It has become so bad that whenever I see UNSW on an article, my B$ detector goes into overdrive.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 21, 2017 5:19 pm
Michael Smith
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 21, 2017 6:20 pm

Tom, the worst coastal erosion damage from the June 2016 storm appears to have affected Collaroy where members of my wife’s family have lived for decades and where my family spent one holiday right on the beach beside Long Reef. Newspaper reports with photographs from 1925, 1945 and 1967 show storm damage at Collaroy very similar to that suffered in the latest episode. Needless to say, the local council has stopped the construction of storm barriers.

Old Grey Badger
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 22, 2017 10:35 am

They don’t even pretend the storm they measured was stronger than usual, or sooner than expected. Every storm, everywhere, at every time is caused by climate change. Get ready for 24/7/365 weather porn.
“The damage we saw from a moderately intense storm last year is a harbinger of what’s to come

Kalifornia Kook
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 22, 2017 4:56 pm

Expect beach erosion to get worse in Kalifornia. Many beach-front owners are allowed to do maintenance to existing systems that ameliorate natural erosion only one more time. Clearly, that means that events like Hurricane Sandy which breached the neglected breakwater built in 1894 will occur along Kalifornia shores. Climate Change will be cited, but like the Katrina disaster, the real culprits will be malfeasance by local municipalities that do not perform, or in Kalifornia’s case, do not allow maintenance of breakwaters.
Reminds you of Kalifornia’s maintenance of dams, doesn’t it? Remember Oroville? Everyone knew there was a problem, but according to Climate Scientists, a permanent drought made maintenance unnecessary.
Except here, Climate Change advocates say beach erosion will happen, but Kalifornia doesn’t permit maintenance, even by private parties.

July 21, 2017 12:14 pm

The desparation is palpable as evidence mounts that the whole CAGW thingnis largely a fabricarion. IPCC 2012 SRES said there is no evidence for increase in cyclones. There is even less evidence for changes in their directions. Sandy was weather, and followed the general path of the 1938 Long Island Express that killed over 600 people. Hardly unprecedented.

Reply to  ristvan
July 21, 2017 2:42 pm

Sandy was actually a combination of storms. There was Sandy and then there was a very strong cold front coming in from the northwest and they both met when Sandy hit land. Sandy, I believe, was a Cat 3 storm when it hit land. The northwest storm was also very severe.

Reply to  TA
July 21, 2017 2:53 pm

Sandy according to the records at the time was not even a hurricane when it hit land.

Frederik Michiels
Reply to  TA
July 22, 2017 12:51 am

and even if you would assign it a hurricane status, it just was a low end category 1 storm. Actually in correct terms Sandy became then a “noreaster”: big storm with long fronts and large windfield. Something similar hit our coastline in 1953. it’s why they built the delta works

Reply to  TA
July 23, 2017 7:37 am

It was the 1’000+ mile fetch that wreaked havoc on the land filled lowland swamp area housing developments in NJ. Just sayin

Reply to  TA
July 23, 2017 7:53 am

The GOES 13 timelapse on this page is quite impressive.

Reply to  ristvan
July 22, 2017 4:58 pm

From the paper. “This was similar to the amount of sand shifted on the U.S. east coast by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, which killed 233 people and caused US$75 billion in damage.”
Was this paper peer reviewed?
Sandy was not a hurricane when it made landfall in southern New Jersey around Atlantic City . What do they mean when they say it was the largest on record. Sandy was large indeed in size because it lingered a long time being blocked by a lingering Northeaster. I never have heard the claim that it was the largest on record.
Other accounts claim 149 deaths of which 70 were in the Caribbean not 233.
Another error ? “Even so, according to the NHC, Sandy was still only the second-largest Atlantic tropical cyclone on record. Hurricane Olga, another late-in-the-year storm, set the record in 2001, with tropical-force winds extending 600 miles (965 km).” Not the largest Atlantic hurricane on record!
Finally it is important to note that the Jersey coast was being battered by a lingering Northeast storm for days which had already piled up a massive amount of water on the coast during a full moon high tide and Sandy while not a Hurricane at that time added another pile of water on top the already flooded areas. Areas flooded inland that normally do not flood in part because the ocean breached the barrier Island in one area around Mantoloking and inland places inland of that area experienced serious flooding not seen before.

Steve Case
July 21, 2017 12:16 pm

One meter of sea level rise by 2100 requires an average, starting right now of 12 mm/yr. When is this acceleration going to begin to happen? Colorado University’s Sea Level Group might bang it up on paper to 3.9 mm/yr in the next few weeks, but like calling the tail on Abraham Lincoln’s dog a leg, saying it’s 3.9 or whatever they come up with won’t make it so.

July 21, 2017 12:16 pm

I see. All natural climate variability and weather is now “man caused”. I guess man caused the last ice age. And the start of the end of the last ice age. It must be, according to the “climate change” zealots.

July 21, 2017 12:19 pm

Around the world all land that has coastal areas have High Water Markers from the past Interglacial Periods and higher areas of Storm Damage that occurred. Anybody that would build below those obvious markers, are idiots that think it wouldn’t happen again. It’s like building your house on the bank of a stream between cliffs that had obvious markers of high water during flooding in the past.

Reply to  johchi7
July 21, 2017 12:27 pm

my house is built on a ancient coral reef……..people forget there are lots of islands

Kalifornia Kook
Reply to  johchi7
July 22, 2017 9:21 pm

Visited Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Hungary last year. Along the Danube, there are many buildings with high water marks on buildings 15 feet up. Old Town in Alexandria had high water marks on buildings 12 feet high when I lived there in the 80’s. These are anomalies. To desert such places, full of history and beauty, when all that is required is a little cleanup… what a waste.
Just don’t make the public pay for its cleanup and repair – other than in merchant markups and insurance claims.

Reg Nelson
July 21, 2017 12:22 pm

“Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record”
Sandy wasn’t even a cat 1 hurricane when it made landfall. Two cat 3 hurricanes hit New York in 1954.
How can you believe anything else they say?

Reply to  Reg Nelson
July 21, 2017 2:15 pm

Subtropical Storm Sandy was , indeed, not a hurricane and the term “superstorm” was invented just to terrorize the public. It was a large storm, yes, but not the largest by any means. It just happened to hit a part of the New Jersey coast that has enjoyed a long respite from storm damage. They got caught flatfooted and unprepared. The hubris of thinking themselves safe.
Jacksonville, Florida appears to be charmed and has not been hit by a hurricane for decades. It will happen, it’s just the way it goes.
The same is true in Australia. Their huge storm down there was a rarity but it by no means indicates a new storm pattern is emerging. It’s like saying that, after winning a football game, the University of Iowa team had a one-game winning streak. Really?

john harmsworth
Reply to  higley7
July 21, 2017 3:30 pm

They are a very large continent in the middle of a pretty warm ocean. If they don’t like the weather they should move it! If it’s too warm, there’s another land mass to the South that is a good deal cooler.

Reply to  higley7
July 29, 2017 12:14 pm

higley7 July 21, 2017 at 2:15 pm
Subtropical Storm Sandy was , indeed, not a hurricane and the term “superstorm” was invented just to terrorize the public. It was a large storm, yes, but not the largest by any means.

Sandy was indeed a hurricane and while it was a cat 2 NHC lists it as the largest (by radius) recorded in the Atlantic basin.
It just happened to hit a part of the New Jersey coast that has enjoyed a long respite from storm damage. They got caught flatfooted and unprepared. The hubris of thinking themselves safe.
Yeah a really long respite, just over a year since Irene came ashore at Brigantine (the first time Atlantic City had been evacuated.
As for being unprepared for Sandy, the barrier islands were evacuated and many of the coastal towns had mandatory evacuations, Atlantic City was closed again three days before landfall.

Bryan A
July 21, 2017 12:25 pm

The same beach location can be seen in Google Earth at Long/Lat
-33.726436 151.299592 from May 2016, Just prior to the Storm.
Something I want to know is the Timing of the image. Is the supporting image in the article taken at High Tide or Low Tide on that day? Also, in th eimage, the sea looks fairlt choppy like the ocean is still subjected to unsettled weather Tidal Surging. How does that beach look today, Is it still as eroded ot has it done what beaches do and has had more sand redeposited

Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
July 21, 2017 12:33 pm

Yet another thing I notice in the Google Earth imagery is that, in May 2016, (just prior to the storm) the beach looks like it had JUST had hundreds of yards of Fresh Sand layed out on the top half of the beach. The grooming marks are still visible

July 21, 2017 12:29 pm

How ridiculous. I live on the East Coast of Australia. Sometimes we get storms…

Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 21, 2017 1:00 pm

And, if you live on a section of coast with an open fetch of water before you, expect waves. That is the occasional down side of beach front property.

Gary Kerkin
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 21, 2017 3:15 pm

I did too Eric, for a few years—in Gladstone, Queensland, a tiny way south of the Tropic of Capricorn. But I am a New Zealander, and on occasion NZ has been affected by the remnants of tropical cyclones in the South Pacific. They can no longer be called cyclones, but some have been devastating storms, such as the one on 10 April 1968 which sank the ferry Wahine with a loss of 53 lives (out of 734 on board). That storm was the remnant of TC Giselle. The Wikipedia description is very interesting
The problem, as I see it, is the loss of what I call “race memory” in the news media community. It would appear that many journalists/reporters(!), for whatever reason, time perhaps being one of them, do not check the history of such storms. Even just recent history. Given the desire to generate a “scoop” it must be very easy to trot out hyperbolic descriptions. Of such are great headlines made!
If you are not aware of, say, a category 5 cyclone which blew through 5 or 10 years ago, it is very easy to think about the current category 2 storm as being the worst ever.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 21, 2017 4:02 pm

Eric! You daredevil, you!!! I’m telling your mom!

July 21, 2017 12:30 pm

Damn, this world just keeps going around even with all this stuff happening. I’m soooo dizzy, my head is spinning.

July 21, 2017 12:30 pm

Sorry to repeat myself, but doesn’t ‘climate change’, being the warming of the planet, mean that cold air from, for example the poles, won’t be as cold as it used to be, therefore when it meets warmer air, the reaction won’t be as large. Therefore hurricanes are likely to be less violent and possibly less frequent.
An over simplification, I know, but nonetheless a possibility?

Reply to  HotScot
July 21, 2017 1:23 pm

Hurricanes usually develop in the heart of large, tropical air masses. On occasion, they may spin up along an old frontal boundary or trough, but these are often hybrid storms, and not completely tropical in nature. In other words, cooler air from the north is not required to spin up tropical cyclones.
With the AGW theory, most of the warming is expected to be in the higher latitudes, with little change in the tropical regions, so I would not expect a noticeable change in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones. (The last 100 years of warming, with no change in frequency supports this conclusion) Theoretically, there might be a slight poleward shift in the tracks of tropical cyclones, but that would still be irrelevant when it comes to making decisions. It doesn’t matter if you average one tropical cyclone every 10 years 15 years, or 20 years. You still have to prepare for a tropical cyclone every year. You still have to build your infrastructure to withstand a tropical cyclone.

Reply to  HotScot
July 21, 2017 6:29 pm

That is just too simple. Can’t garner any grants with that kind of thinking.

Jim Whelan
July 21, 2017 12:31 pm

“Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record” A lie, Sandy wasn’t even a hurricane but a confluence of weather systems and not the biggest either. Just very damaging to structures built on the coast. One lie for sure, probably many others. the authors are just scare-mongers who can’t be trusted.

Bryan A
Reply to  Jim Whelan
July 21, 2017 12:35 pm

Sandy was a marriage of several frontal systems into a Perfect Storm. Just perfect for the Global Warming Scare

Reply to  Jim Whelan
July 29, 2017 11:21 am

Not true Sandy was indeed a hurricane and while a cat 2 was stated to be the largest diameter hurricane recorded in the Atlantic basin (NHC).

July 21, 2017 12:36 pm

“The world’s most extensive study”… Well, I guess that settles that.

July 21, 2017 12:39 pm

“show me the man and I will show you the crime” Beria/Stalin.”show me the storm and I will show you the cause…AGW” Gore/MSM

Joel Snider
July 21, 2017 12:39 pm

Funny how all these things seem to get missed. Thirty-plus years and, gosh, they’re still discovering new and terrifying things that are yet to happen.
Good thing they know what they’re talking about NOW, because apparently they had no clue before today.
I wonder what we’ll find out tomorrow.
And I wonder if it will be SCARY.

July 21, 2017 12:51 pm

It was difficult to read all the way through the article. They can no longer say that storms will be worse, because that is not happening. So they have decided to take a new angle on alarmism by saying that the storms will take a new angle on coastlines, damaging areas that were once less susceptible.
If this were true, it would be great news for those areas that have been hammered in the past. If the pattern shift makes it worse for some, then it is getting better for others. But they didn’t mention that. I guess there can be no benefits to changing climate.
But my primary thought is that this is useless information for at least a couple of reasons. The ‘shift’ they are taking about, if it occurred, would probably take several hundred years to even be noticed. If, on average, you get hit by a tropical cyclone once every 50 years, and that jumps to once every 45 years, how many centuries does it take for you to see a difference? And does that really change anything in the way one lives on the coast? Does it change how you build infrastructure and buildings? No. Especially since most coastal locations are ill prepared for tropical cyclones, no matter how frequently they happen.
I understand that these researchers are trying to justify their next grant, but their hyperbole would make Reed Richards jealous!comment image

Reply to  jclarke341
July 21, 2017 2:50 pm

“It was difficult to read all the way through the article. They can no longer say that storms will be worse, because that is not happening. So they have decided to take a new angle on alarmism by saying that the storms will take a new angle on coastlines, damaging areas that were once less susceptible.”
That’s exactly what they are doing. As if they could predict the angle of storms in the future. They are clutching at straws in their efforts to promote CAGW.

Leo Smith
Reply to  TA
July 21, 2017 3:39 pm


john harmsworth
Reply to  jclarke341
July 21, 2017 4:17 pm

But jc, they aren’t even saying more frequent. They’re saying that when you look left for the storm, it will sneak up behind you from the right! And you’ll be defenseless! It’s beyond ridiculous! Only within the religious context of AGW could somebody say this with a serious look on their face and not get laughed off campus!

Mickey Reno
Reply to  john harmsworth
July 22, 2017 6:14 am

Storms of the future will come from unprecedented compass directions.

July 21, 2017 12:51 pm

Things will be different as the climate changes.
People get paid to say that?

M.W. Plia.
July 21, 2017 12:54 pm

This morning on “Live With Kelly and Ryan” former VP Al Gore was a guest. When Kelly asked what he says to climate deniers, his response was the overwhelming evidence of increasing extreme weather.
The man was serious (so was Kelly).
I could only think of George Costanza: “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it”

Reply to  M.W. Plia.
July 21, 2017 1:21 pm

Indeed – what evidence?

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  M.W. Plia.
July 21, 2017 3:53 pm

Even the IPCC says that’s garbage.

Dan Davis
Reply to  M.W. Plia.
July 22, 2017 9:24 am

More accurately “the overwhelming evidence of the use of EXTREME !! to define unusual weather.”

Thomas Homer
July 21, 2017 12:56 pm

[ Explorer Ferdinand Magellan named the Pacific Ocean in the 16th Century. … He called this body of water pacific, due to the calmness of the water at the time (‘pacific’ means peaceful). ]
Is that considered historical proof that the Pacific Ocean didn’t ravage coastlines until modern times?

Ric Haldane
July 21, 2017 12:57 pm

When I was in school, I was taught that a good engineer starts with reality and ends with reality. I guess things are different in Australia. Maybe if the students these guys teach stay in OZ when they complete school, they will be safe. Have these clowns done any work on the SA grid?

Rob Dawg
July 21, 2017 1:18 pm

> They found that 11.5 million cubic metres of sand was eroded from beaches across a 200 km stretch of Australia’s eastern seaboard in just the three days of the storm – the equivalent to filling the Melbourne Cricket Ground (capacity 100,000 people) to the brim with sand more than seven times.
I call for BS (Better Science). 11.5 million cubic meters along 200,000 meters of coastline equals 57.5 cubic meters lost for every linear meter of beach.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Rob Dawg
July 21, 2017 4:18 pm

They are currently using that other math.

Ray in SC
Reply to  Rob Dawg
July 22, 2017 8:04 am

I’m not familiar with the unit of measure “Melbourne Cricket Ground”. Can anyone offer a coversion to the scientific standard unit “olympic size swimming pool”?

July 21, 2017 1:19 pm

Ah of course, the weather on that one day is the new norm. And here is an exclusive look at their methodology:

July 21, 2017 1:19 pm

Just wondered if you were going to repost the Scientific American article about 2017 shaping up to be the hottest on record.   I’d love to read the comments on that. Mac
Sent from Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Reply to  delossm
July 21, 2017 1:32 pm

Why waste the bits? According to, let me guess, Karlized NOAA and projecting temperature anomalies to remain this high for the remainder of the year.

July 21, 2017 1:19 pm

“This was similar to the amount of sand shifted on the U.S. east coast by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, which killed 233 people and caused US$75 billion in damage.”
“Largest?” Yes – a very large diameter. But – lost it’s Hurricane Cat 1 classification just prior to landfall. And, how did it compare to the 1938 Cat 3 hurricane? Here:
A few facts from the page:
Max Recorded Sustained Wind: 121 mph at Blue Hill Observatory, MA
Max Recorded Wind Gust: 186 mph at Blue Hill Observatory, MA
Highest Sustained Wind Measurement not Influenced by Terrain: 109 mph at Fishers Island, NY (Landsea et al 2013)
Lowest Observed Pressure: 27.94 in (946.2 mb) at Bellport, NY
Estimated Lowest Pressure: 27.79 in (941 mb) near Brentwood, NY as the wind and pressure centers were slightly displaced due to its fast speed and extra-tropical transition (Landsea et al. 2013, National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division Re-Analysis Project)
Speed at landfall: 47 mph (Landsea et al. 2013, National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division Re-Analysis Project)
Peak Storm Surge: 17 ft. above normal high tide (Rhode Island)
Peak Wave Height: 50 ft. at Gloucester, MA
Deaths: 700
Homeless: Approx. 63,000
Homes/Buildings Destroyed: Approx. 8,900
Trees Destroyed: Approx. 2 Billion
Boats Lost or Destroyed: Approx. 3,300
Cost: $620 million (1938 Dollars); Equivalent to approx. $41 billion using 2005 inflation, wealth, and population normalization then estimated to 2010 Dollars (Blake and Gibney 2011).
And, of course, this was long before there was any potential for any observable/measurable AGW, or ACC.

Reply to  garyh845
July 21, 2017 1:28 pm

And did anyone make sure to get out there with a tape measure to record the width of that storm and others prior to satellites?

Reply to  RWturner
July 21, 2017 1:34 pm

I was thinking that. Prior to satellites – which was not that long ago. BTW – here’s how them Democrat New Yorkers speak of Sandy:
June 2, 2017
De Blasio: New York Mayor, Democrat Bill de Blasio, was visiting a Brooklyn neighborhood devastated by Superstorm Sandy when Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the climate pact on Thursday.
All that occurred in that superstorm was because of climate change. We’ve already borne the brunt here in New York City. It’s only going to get worse if something is not done quickly to reverse the course the Earth is on.’’
Nov, 2012
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “When we built New York, we didn’t think about floods, about storms. We didn’t have hurricanes and floods,” the governor said. “Extreme weather is here to stay. Climate change is a reality. Political gridlock has held us back too long…. Maybe Mother Nature is telling us something. One time, two times, three times. There are places that are going to be victimized by storms. We know that now.”

Reply to  RWturner
July 21, 2017 1:46 pm

If only we could resurrect our long gone ancestors, they’d take these believers of modern day weather voodoo behind the woodshed to teach them something. I’m pretty sure the founders of New York planned on storms and floods.

Reply to  garyh845
July 21, 2017 1:31 pm

And when there were far fewer people, structures on the coast.

Bruce Cobb
July 21, 2017 1:25 pm

So, storm patterns and wave directions never varied before? Who knew?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 21, 2017 6:01 pm

Neither did the (adjusted) temperature. Life was easy when grandad lived, but we have to live with the hellish 1 degree rise.

July 21, 2017 1:25 pm

“It would also provide a crucial insight into how climate change will interact with the long cycles of El Niño and La Niña, and predict coastal vulnerability from sea level rise and changing storm patterns in the decades ahead,”
It is no surprise that the ENSO is short and longer multi-decadal term controls frequency of the Americas’ west coast precipitation.
Additionally it appears that the change in direction of the trade winds and piling up of water in W. Pacific also has a major impact on the rate of the Earth’s rotation (LOD).

Moderately Bored of East Anglia
July 21, 2017 1:35 pm

If one of the unexpected directions from which these new superwave storms will come from turns out to be from the inland interior of Australia then it will be be time to worry – until then it looks like another hysterical virtue and fund seeking rant by the “many Asian ports will be underwater by 2010” brigade. “Wolf! Wolf! No really Wolf”.

July 21, 2017 1:44 pm

I’ve lived in the area for the past 40 years. There have been far bigger storms. This is simply what happens when you build houses on sand at the edge of the ocean. Wait long enough and a storm will wash you away.

July 21, 2017 1:51 pm

Shifting storm patterns are part of the current climate. Costal areas have always been in a state of change and are riskier then other areas. Eventually the current interglacial period will end and the new ice age will bring with it lower sea levels.

July 21, 2017 2:17 pm

Storms sometimes take strange paths because weather has always been occasionally acting up in one way or another. One cause is normal random variations in Pacific ocean currents, sometimes even random current shifts in other oceans.

Snarling Dolphin
July 21, 2017 2:32 pm

Personally I find it reassuring to learn that until this threat was identified (aka geomorphology) sea level rise was recognized by a powerhouse of engineering as the only impact climate change will bring to the world’s coastlines. I’m quite sure powerhouse engineers can handle a few mm/yr.

July 21, 2017 2:33 pm

There is sleight of hand in this report. ” When it comes to severe weather, a lot of the attention is paid to tropical storms like cyclones and hurricanes,… this data highlights the amount of coastal damage that can occur with east-coast lows in Australia … ” So they can say they are leaving out cyclones. Probably just as well, because I doubt that any of these alleged engineers are RPEQ (Registered Professional Engineer Queensland) and need to avoid appearing to provide advice for that state.
As usual they slip in the usual unsubstantiated sea level rise alarmism.
Cyclones in the southern hemisphere rotate clockwise, so hit the east coast from the same direction. More severe if you are at the epicentre or south of it, less severe if you are north of it, as the passage over the land results in attenuation. (If they come OFF the land as occasionally happens, they are attenuated: intensification only occurs over the ocean.)
The report appears to be arguing that since east coast lows are not cyclonic, then the wind direction is more variable, and some directions would cause greater problems than others. because of local coastal topography. Nothing new here. There have been numerous east coast lows, and more than adequate records of wind direction and localised damage to establish the effects. They didn’t need to go clowning around on jet-skis.

Coastal Resident
July 21, 2017 3:18 pm

The SMH ( Sydney Morning Herald ) coverage of the report stated that there had been an average recession of 22 meters across the 177 kilometer study area. That is a phenomenal claim and I’d suggest exagerated, in any case most if not all erosion had recovered at most locations, Wamberal Beach NSW is back to its normal parameters ( MHW line at Wamberal has been fairly static for 130 years – backed up by surveys held by Manly Hydraulic Labs ) . The study claimed that East coast lows will shift wind direction from South to East under climate change influence. In any scenarios there should be winners and losers, so areas previously affected by southerly winds should be better off.

July 21, 2017 3:25 pm

Liars or idiots. There are no other excuses for continuing to claim any bad weather event is a sign of human cause climate change. Back to burning witches very soon I suppose.

michael hart
July 21, 2017 3:28 pm

It reads like a very long winded excuse for saying that they are really just not very good at predicting weather-related things, and they expect to get worse.

H. D. Hoese
July 21, 2017 3:34 pm

“……, but that the storms that strike the coast will come from unexpected directions, damaging coastal areas and infrastructure once thought safe from storm damage.”
Scour and fill ain’t what it used to be. Maps of routes fill the Gulf of Mexico, but some places and routes have reasonably been more susceptible. Numerous factors affect this making angles complex, but those of us following these for decades apparently have to recalculate. Claudette in 2003, something like a broad strong1/weak 2, came onto the Texas coast, then instead of properly crossing the Red River somewhere, turned west heading toward what would be and probably still is a safer refuge in land west of the Pecos. Nevertheless, everybody still knew it came from the Gulf, direction precision increasing over the years. Methinks they need to study history.
It reminds me of a downhill neighbor with a sunken living room in the floodplain who was quoted on TV saying something like “Never seen flooding like this in the four years we lived here.” No doubt true. Some of the central Texas coast awaits the return of the 1919 like storm where there has been lots of susceptible building. Those since have come in at different angles, even parallel to the coast. Hurricane in 1985 Louisiana did a pirouette, T shirts, said “I survived Hurricane Juan three times.”

July 21, 2017 4:38 pm

Everyone wants to say they’ve had something published and inserting CAGW is the proven way to make that happen. Since any critical follow up is as rare as a credible peer review it’s a safe bet to further one’s stature with a chosen crowd.

July 21, 2017 5:30 pm

“waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before”
Maybe so but no evidence that fossil fuel emissions has something to do with it or that it can be mitigated by cutting emissions.

Gary Pearse
July 21, 2017 5:47 pm

So how can we judge the quality of a climate research article. First by logic. To wit, this article is easily identified as pure hype. We’re it to have a scientific basis, it would have pointed out the fact that this shift in wave direction means many more beaches that commonly are more directly slapped by waves are now less at risk, more sheltered as it were! Indeed ‘sheltered’ beaches are poorly developed and prone to corral flotsam and jetsam, muds and seaweed growth.. They will benefit from a direct sea clean up.
I can see we will be sorting articles on all sciences and engineering by source country before long (and by gender in climate science? – com’on girls, you came into this mannly science when corruption was rife and young male students were abandoning climate as a choice [note your instructors are all male]). Oz needs a major academic muck out. Science rots under neomarxbrothers ideology.

Pop Piasa
July 21, 2017 6:08 pm

How many new south whales are there at this university?

Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 21, 2017 6:32 pm

It is a shame that these researchers did not do some background checks. The National Library of Australia has an excellent web site where you can search digitized newspapers. A quick check shows that the subject storm was neither unprecedented, nor particularly remarkable in the historic context.

July 21, 2017 6:21 pm

To recapitulate about Sandy, the NWS forecast that, when Hurricane Sandy was well offshore, it would transform from a warm core tropical cyclone to a cold core extratropical cyclone before landfall. Hence, no tropical storm warnings were ever issued. Unfortunately for the NWS and TPC, a decaying/remnant eye feature moved westward and onshore into NJ north of Atlantic City with a simultaneous temperature increase at several surface-sensed sites, indicating it was still a warm core storm, and thus tropical. However, as no tropical warnings had been issued, they could not very well call it a tropical storm (I believe sustained winds were below hurricane force; gusts were above). (And we will refrain herewith from entering into a discussion about the merits or lack thereof of failing to issue appropriately more galvanizing warnings for public safety, or the generation of confusion about the warning types (tropical vs. extratropical) that actually were issued.) Here’s another fine little point: it was tweeted by the Meteorologist-In-Charge that the storm made landfall before it actually did. (Does an extratropical storm really make landfall? If not, why the tweet?) Could this have been done in order to agree with the forecast? It must be handy when you control the verification process and call the storm when and what you forecast, no?
Sandy mimicked a (probably Cat 1) hurricane in about the same location, movement, and strength in the early 1900s. The difference was, of course, the change in shoreline and near-shore construction, as well as time of month and day with respect to astronomical tide heights. Regarding Sandy’s size, there have been larger hurricanes, and of course much stronger and more damaging hurricanes in NJ. A hurricane which followed the present course of the Garden State Parkway (north-northeast a few miles inland from the beaches) occurred in, I believe, 1821. Were that to occur today, the damage would be staggering, much greater than Sandy. And, rest assured, a similar storm WILL occur at some point.
The discussion in the referenced paper about storm path is ridiculous. There have always been rogue or contrary storms which do not follow the norm. The paper is total poppycock and nonsense, with at least some obvious (intentional?) misinformation.

July 21, 2017 7:46 pm

The tautoligical stupidity of studies like this is embarrassing.

Gerald Cooper
July 21, 2017 11:34 pm

If this storm did indeed remove thousands of tons of sand from a specific coastal area, is it possible that it was deposited elsewhere? If so, has this new beach now protected a previously vulnerable area? Sands shift and coastlines change – sometimes exposing dwellings to damage and sometimes helping to protect them.

July 22, 2017 1:29 am

UNSW why don’t you waddle down to Fort Denison and check out the tide gauge?

July 22, 2017 4:43 am

These people either have short memories or are just to young to have seen it. The 1974 storm was way worse. The swell was bigger and the damage worse.

Reply to  Cloudbase
July 22, 2017 9:16 am

“…The swell was bigger and the damage worse….” That’s just because it hasn’t been adjusted yet. Give it some time.

July 22, 2017 7:48 am
July 22, 2017 8:42 am

Flannery should sell his waterfront properties fast…

July 22, 2017 11:56 am

in northeast florida, where I live, we are in an old house that has survived many a storm. For years people with more dollars than sense have been building houses right at the ocean’s edge, thereby blocking us oldies from beach access that we have had for years. Last year, Hurricane Matthew went along the coast and ruined a lot of these rich, beach-blocking homes. The owners now want the state/feds to assist them in rebuilding, which ain’t gonna happen, for the most part, and they get absolutely no sympathy from the rest of us. The foolish man built his house upon the sand,,,,and the rest is history.

July 22, 2017 6:33 pm

The real lesson is the simplest one: the more the AGWers rattle on with panic attacks and hyperbolic language, the more ridiculous they become when reality (e.g., research into similar past events) shows them up.

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