Mitigating climate change impacts along the coast using technology
A CSIR study on Southern African coastal vulnerability aims to assess and map vulnerable coastal ecosystems to develop specific adaptation measures and coastal protection options to mitigate the physical impacts of global climate change.
Already, models indicate that a one-in-30 year storm event is likely to become a one-in-three year storm event due to a rise in sea level, erosion and climate change.
Southern African countries have very little adaptive capacity and the ability to halt coastal impacts on a large scale is virtually non-existent. Mitigating the negative impacts of climate change requires research directed at an improved understanding of what is happening to the country’s coastline and what is likely to happen as climate change intensifies.
Thus, there is a need to quantify the impact that climate change will have on the coasts in order to prepare for the losses and damages caused by severe weather conditions.
It is important to also understand the adaptation options available for the Southern African coasts which are different from the approach by developed countries. Adaptation methods such as sand nourishments which involve pumping sand on the coastline and growing vegetation near the coast are some of the methods that will aid in reducing the effects of severe storms, flooding and erosion.
In addition, technological solutions for managing climate change impacts on the coast can include the installation of coastal cameras which monitor day-to-day activities in the oceans. Coastal cameras collect data through digital images and transmit these to domain sites to send information about wave movement, wind speed and direction.
Understanding the coastal environment is crucial for safety, sustainability and coastal development in a data-poor environment. In contrast, failure to understand the linkages between the biophysical earth systems, within which man operates in the coastal zone, can spell disaster for even the most robust development or business.
Dr Björn Backeberg