South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative

This program studied South East Queensland’s vulnerability to climate change with the aim of developing practical, cost effective strategies to help it adapt.

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Wide ranging study

The research program featured eight main research strands, with a fundamental focus on regional synthesis to ensure that the studies of various sectors are coordinated and complementary from the start.

By being specific to one region and combining the new knowledge emerging across interrelated fields, the research cluster aimed to provide insights into complex adaptation options.

Climate change projections

CSIRO climate scientists developed new climate change projections and scenarios for south-east Queensland (SEQ).

Developing new science to identify which of all of the international models fit south-east Queensland’s conditions best, they focused on extreme weather events in the region, such as extreme heat, coastal inundation and flood risk.

Adaptive capacity

The University of the Sunshine Coast led new research exploring the capacity of stakeholders in SEQ to adapt.


  • examined how socio-economic trends in the region will interact with the effects of climate change
  • ran workshops to identify how different sectors view SEQ as a system and uses this to identify key stakeholders
  • ran workshops with key stakeholder groups to identify adaption bottlenecks and to suggest appropriate capacity building strategies.

Human settlements

Griffith University used a case study approach to examine how urban planning and emergency preparedness and management can facilitate adaptation.

One case study site examined an area of combined residential and commercial use that is exposed to storm surge, and explored what adaptations are likely to work.

One site contained a major health facility and explored what planning is needed to ensure it is equipped for emergency responses in extreme weather.

The adaptation implications of urban expansion along the region’s western corridor was also be a case study focus, addressing risks associated with heatwave and bushfire in peri-urban.

All case studies assessed adaptation options relating to planning and urban form, emergency management and public health.

CSIRO contributed to the human settlements by developing spatial vulnerability maps for critical and urban infrastructure, and using these to explore adaptation options.


CSIRO led research exploring the impact of climate change on the SEQ agricultural industry.


  • developed models to project the productivity of future horticultural crops
  • engaged with farmers to run trial crops based on modelling projections
  • surveyed horticulturalists and beef producers to help understand attitudes to climate change adaptation.

Ecosystems and biodiversity

The University of Queensland examined ways to support our ecosystems in a changing climate


  • conducted field research to examine how changing climate will affect rainforest diversity
  • conducted field research to understand the processes that maintain stable mangrove and salt marsh habitats with climate change and other stresses
  • used field results and participatory processes to develop conservation plans which mitigate the risk and uncertainties of climate change while maximizing biodiversity and ecosystem services.


CSIRO built models to project the electricity demands of the future, in particular focusing on managing peak demand and pricing.

They engaged with the energy industry to use modelled projections to develop adaptation strategies that integrate issues of urban planning and health.

Regional synthesis

CSIRO led the project’s integration to ensure that the adaptation strategies delivered by SEQCARI consider the trade-offs between various adaptation options.

They ran workshops to:

  • identify which adaptation strategies most critically require an integrative perspective
  • test adaptation options from one sector (e.g. energy) against the impacts and requirements of adaptation in other sectors
  • test integrated adaptation options with industry and government and communities stakeholders.