14 September 2012
Securing trade against climate change
RMIT University is helping to secure Australian trade by supporting port authorities in the development of robust climate change adaptation strategies.
Ports are critical infrastructure to Australia, handling about 90 per cent of the goods traded in and out of the country.
RMIT's e-Research Office and Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP), which is part of the Global Cities Research Institute, were recently awarded $250,000 to develop an interactive online toolkit to help port authorities in their decision-making.
The toolkit will use climate and non-climate data from sources such as the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, and will allow users to create a set of possible "futures" that can inform their climate change adaptation strategies.
Because ports are on the coast or at the mouths of rivers, they are at the frontline of sea-level rise and increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like storms and floods.
CCAP leader Professor Darryn McEvoy said making choices about how best to deal with these changing risks was complex.
"There is uncertainty associated with the timing and magnitude of projected climate change, so the merits of different adaptation responses - and the timing of their implementation - need to be considered," Professor McEvoy said.
"All this also needs to be considered in the context of other possible trade and socioeconomic changes."
The project is funded by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), a federal organisation which aims to make research data more accessible.
RMIT's e-Research director, Professor Heinz Schmidt, said the e-Research team was bringing its expertise in distributed software architecture and services to bear on the project.
"Some of the component software will build on prior open-source projects successfully completed by the e-Research team under earlier successful ANDS contracts," Professor Schmidt said.
Professor McEvoy said the project allowed the CCAP to draw on the strengths of the RMIT eResearch team to maximise the functionality and usability of the toolkit.
"This type of multi-disciplinary work, which also closely involves stakeholders, is imperative when addressing an issue as complex as adapting to climate change," Professor McEvoy said.
Professors McEvoy and Schmidt will work on the project alongside CCAP colleagues Dr Jane Mullett and Alexei Trundle, and e-Research colleagues Dr Venki Balasubramanian, Dr Ian Thomas and Dr Ravi Sreenivasamurthy.
The team will work closely with stakeholders including the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, the National Transport Commission, and Engineers Australia.
A new RMIT project will support Australia's port authorities in adapting to climate change.
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