Hundreds attend inaugural workshop on intermittent estuaries

On 16-18 June, Dr Valentin (Tino) Heimhuber of UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory hosted the 'Inaugural international workshop on intermittent estuaries in a changing climate' together with Sarah McSweeney (University of Melbourne), Eric Stein (Southern California Coastal Water Research Project) and Lara Van Niekerk (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa).

Intermittently Open/Closed Estuaries (IOCEs) occur on many of the world’s wave-dominated coastlines where they add substantial socio-economic and ecological value to coastal communities. Even though IOCEs are considered most vulnerable to climate change out of all estuary types; current knowledge, data, and management tools are often insufficient to adequately address future challenges. There is also recognised gap between the data generated by researchers and the information required by policymakers.

 The free inaugural workshop brought together the global community of scientists, practitioners, and policymakers in a virtual setting to establish and exchange current knowledge around IOCEs in a changing climate. They worked together to produce a position paper that summarises the current state of the science on IOCEs in a changing climate and identifies critical research gaps.

 Tino said that despite the challenging day times for some time zones, the response to the workshop and session attendance exceeded expectations.

 “We had over 380 people register and over 100 people tuned in live during most of the three sessions, which is a great outcome for us,” said Tino.

 “There was a great mix of attendees from research, Government, consulting and estuary management. This kind of cross-sector collaboration and knowledge sharing is exactly what we set out to achieve with this workshop.”

A common theme to emerge during the workshop was that intermittent estuaries seem to face very similar and likely severe risks from climate change - no matter the continent. Organisers made the decision to establish the ‘Global Forum on Intermittent Estuaries’ to continue to foster further discussion and collaboration between the community.

 The presentations are now freely accessible on the Forum’s official YouTube channel.

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