Offshore sensors record NSW Coast wave data

A network of seven motion sensor buoys, located several kilometres off the NSW coastline, is helping to determine onshore wave conditions and identify associated coastal hazards.

The motion sensor Waverider' buoys record long-term wave data for the NSW Public Works, including the height, direction and sequence of offshore waves to onshore recording stations.

This data is then analysed by engineers and scientists at NSW Public Works to determine the relationship between inshore and offshore wave conditions. Data from the buoys is regularly used by the Bureau of Meteorology to issue marine warnings and by State Emergency Services to inform its response to coastal storms.

The NSW Public Works monitoring program was originally developed in response to destructive storms during the 1970s. The seven buoys are currently located at Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Crowdy Head, Sydney, Port Kembla, Batemans Bay and Eden.

With data also publicly available on the Manly Hydraulics Laboratory website, it will also enable surfers, divers, lifesavers, fishermen and boat operators to access real-time offshore wave updates. The Waverider program data attracted over 1.3 million website visits last year.

On April 21 of this year, the Sydney buoy measured the largest individual wave ever recorded along the NSW coast since 1987 at 14.9 metres and the longest duration where storm waves exceeded six metres (30 hours).

"Offering up to 40 years of continuous wave history, the NSW Coastal Data and Flood Program has developed one of the world's most comprehensive ocean wave datasets," said Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello. The Office of Environment & Heritage has also commenced an initiative to provide data on the wave climate at individual beaches, known as the State Wide Inshore Wave Transformation Project, according to Environment Minister, Mark Speakman.

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"[The initiative] would allow nearshore wave conditions and associated coastal hazards to be more precisely characterised along the entire NSW coast," said Mr Speakman.

"This is a long-term project, which will help us to more accurately predict wave conditions at local beaches and prioritise coastal management responses."

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Bonnie Gardiner

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