Scientists Predict Impact of Climate Change on Australian Seabed

CANBERRA, Australia, Oct. 22 (UPI) — Australian scientists say they have created the first preliminary predictions of the potential impact of climate change on the Australian seabed.

The results of the five-year study conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization — Australia’s national government body for scientific research — predict potential high-risk areas due to seabed movement, erosion and changes in reef growth.

Geologist Cedric Griffiths, who led the study, said the interaction between the ocean and the seabed is poorly understood. “We have more information about the surfaces of the Moon and Mars than we do about the seabed surrounding Australia, let alone the effect that climate change may have on it.

“The lack of knowledge of the magnitude and location of future seabed changes is not only potentially putting our offshore infrastructures, such as petroleum pipelines and platforms, at risk, but can also cause over-design.”

The study determined, among other things:

– Many offshore oil and gas development sites will be susceptible to increased erosion.

– Wind-driven waves and storm events in southern regions will lead to increased beach and cliff erosion.

– Temperature and salinity changes in northern waters will impact marine life.

“There are still many uncertainties about future climate change and impacts, however the research provides a useful starting point to discuss possible response strategies,” Griffiths said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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