A SCULPTURE in Lake Macquarie could help residents fully appreciate the impact of sea level rises, a councillor has suggested.
Cr Jason Pauling said he was thinking ‘‘abstract art’’ but was open to alternatives.
While there are already water-level gauges in the lake, Cr Pauling says they are ‘‘not readily accessible and they’re not tangible’’ to most people.
‘‘It’s easier for everyone if [the data is] presented to people in a form they can see and touch,’’ he said.
‘‘People say ‘I’ve lived here for 40 years and the water’s never been higher than that rock’,’’ Cr Pauling said.
Hence his suggestion of a sculpture.
The Newcastle Herald is asking readers to chip in with ideas for the artwork.
Something such as a big prawn or shark or fishing rod could become a tourist attraction as well as a lake-level gauge.
Cr Pauling has suggested the sculpture be built ‘‘somewhere prominent’’, such as near Warners Bay jetty or the Red Bluff walkway at Eleebana. Tidal effects would have to be factored in, he said.
Lake Macquarie City Council sustainability manager Alice Howe said the lake’s water-level gauges were at Swansea Channel, Belmont and Marmong Point.
They were operated by Manly Hydraulics Laboratory and measurements from the gauges were available online.
But the lab results were difficult to understand for ordinary people.
A laboratory manager told the Herald he could not say from the data how much the lake had risen over a certain period.
Lake Macquarie council uses sea-level rise projections of 40 centimetres by 2050 and 90 centimetres by 2100, based on ‘‘expert advice from the NSW government and scientific agencies’’.
CSIRO fellow John Church wrote in October on The Conversation website that sea levels – when averaged around the globe – had been rising at a rate of about 1.7millimetres a year from 1901 to 2010 and about 3.2millimetres a year from 1993 to 2014.
‘‘Australia’s seas are likely to rise by around 70centimetres by 2100 if nothing is done to combat climate change,’’ Mr Church said.
‘‘Our new analysis of sea-level projections ... indicates that regional sea-level rise will be generally noticeable before 2030.’’
He published a graph that predicted sea level rise would start to accelerate from about 2035.
A recent Newcastle University report said many gauges in Australia had been monitoring sea-level changes for 20 years or less, which was ‘‘insufficient to isolate the underlying trend of sea-level change’’.
‘‘It is generally accepted that between 50 and 80 years of data are necessary for the estimation of the trend in mean sea level at a single site,’’ the report said.
Lake Macquarie council has faced criticism for taking a hardline approach to sea level rise, including introducing property restrictions.
But the Herald reported on Tuesday that council staff had done a big backflip over the contentious sea-level rise issue in supporting a Dora Creek development.