Short, A D, 2016. The Coastal Studies Unit and development of the Australian beach models. In: Vila-Concejo, A.; McCarroll, R.J.; Kennedy, D.M., and Bruce, E. (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th International Coastal Symposium (Sydney, Australia). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 75, pp. 1–7. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
The Australian coast provides an ideal laboratory in which to undertake beach research on a continental scale. The 30 000 km of open coast surrounds an entire continent that ranges from tropical to temperate latitudes (9–43°S); with tides ranging from <0.5 to 12 m; average breaker wave height from <0.5 m to ∼3 m; beach sediment from fine to medium sand, half of which is carbonate; and many of the ∼12 000 beach systems are embayed. Commencing in the mid-1970s this laboratory was utilized by members of the Coastal Studies Unit (CSU) leading to the development of beach models that encompass the full range of beach types and states that incorporate every Australian beach and most global beaches. This paper will review the development of these models, based initially on beach research on the micro-tidal, wave-dominated southeast coast; then expanding into both the higher wave energy environments of southern Australia and the higher tide range environments of northern Australia; culminating with an assessment of every beach system around the coast. The end result was the wave-dominated, tide-modified and tide-dominated beach models.