Media Releases | 26th Nov, 2003

Storm surge warning for Port Phillip linked to climate change

Thursday, 27 November 2003

At least a quarter of a billion dollars of real estate, some important Melbourne icons, including Luna Park, and a colony of Fairy Penguins are at risk from an increase in storm surge activity* linked to climate change.

A report released today provides an analysis of existing CSIRO data predicting an increase in storm surge activity in the St Kilda, Elwood, Williamstown, Werribee and Mordialloc areas due to the impacts of climate
changes and rising sea levels linked to the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Environment Victoria climate change director Darren Gladman today said the impacts of climate change linked to the greenhouse effect were becoming more serious in Victoria. The CSIRO predicts that by 2070:

  • Victoria is likely to be between 0.7 and 5C warmer than in 1990
  • Deluges are likely to become more common and intense despite overall declines in rainfall
  • There will be 3.5 times more hot days in some areas of the state
  • Rainfall is likely to decrease by up to 25 per cent in some areas

The CSIRO has found that storm surge events up to one metre are common in Victorian waters (every 2-3 years) but are becoming more regular and could become more extreme.

Low lying suburbs around the Elwood Canal and St Kilda foreshore are likely to be among the most affected areas by increases in storm surge activity. These areas are already prone to flooding.

This area includes more than a quarter of a billion dollars of real estate, some important Melbourne icons such as the Luna Park, the Palace and The Palais entertainment areas., the St Kilda Marina, Marine Parade and the St Kilda breakwater which includes a colony of Little Penguins (also known as Fairy penguins).

Other areas likely to be affected by an increase in storm surges linked to climate change are Werribee, Mordialloc and Williamstown.

The impacts on these areas from increased storm surge events would include: flood damages to house contents, structural damage to buildings; effects on services such as water, electricity, gas and telephones; business interruption; possible health impacts and loss of amenities.

Mr Gladman said there were some immediate actions all Victorian householders could take in their own homes to reduce greenhouse gases, which would help to address the climate change issues.

Australian households generate one fifth of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Everyday activities such as driving the car, heating and cooling the home and hot water heating are major sources of greenhouse
gas emissions.

Environment Victoria has teamed up with state conservation councils around Australia and the Australia Greenhouse Office to deliver the world’s first greenhouse gas reduction program targeting Australian householders.

“All Australians can make a real difference to climate change by taking some simple actions at home to reduce their energy use,” said Mr Gladman.

“Reducing energy use in the home, using the car less and reducing consumption and waste are the three main actions needed for householders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

The Cool Communities program is a world first, and estimates a saving of 16,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases in its first year.

There are two ‘Cool Community’ projects currently underway in Victoria as part of a nationwide project involving 22 communities across all states and territories.

The bayside municipality of City of Port Phillip is conducting a range of activities such as seminars, festivals and household group meetings as part of their ‘Sustainable Living at Home’ program. It is designed to encourage households to save energy, reduce water use and minimise waste. It aims to develop a model program for local government across Australia.

Western Bulldogs Education and Training Centre The Centre was established by the Western Bulldogs Football Club to support community social and environmental programs. The Club has a variety of plans to help reduce greenhouse emissions including household audits, car-pooling, energy efficiency activities and consumer purchasing education programs.

Carissa Linden lives near St Kilda beach and is concerned about the impacts of climate change on her local area. She has signed up with the Port Phillip Cool Communities project and is determined to make an effort
to reduce greenhouse gases in her own household.


* Storm surges occur when high winds create currents in the ocean and when they meet land, cause water to ‘pile up’ like an extra high tide. Storm surges occur on top of the existing tide cycle so the impacts of the wave action are much greater. Along the costs of Victoria and in Port Phillip Bay, storm surges are commonly caused by strong westerly winds and to a lesser extent by the effects of low atmospheric pressure on the ocean.