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Heavy seas are the natural enemy of Gold Coast beaches. (News Video)

AUS - Millions spent to protect Gold Coast beaches, but climate change poses a huge challenge

In 1967, Gold Coast beaches almost disappeared as a string of wild weather events caused coastal erosion that destroyed properties and ruined the tourist season.

The ABC reported a $5 million repair bill, with locals creating an ad-hoc sea wall with thousands of sandbags.

Fast forward to 2013 and similar weather conditions eroded beaches to the edge of some properties.

Darryl Strauss, senior research fellow at Griffith University's Coastal and Marine Research Centre, said the severe erosion in 1967 was caused by seven tropical cyclones and east coast lows within six months.

"Probably the biggest single combination of events causing beach erosion in our known history of the Gold Coast," he said.

"There was no time for beaches to recover in-between events."

Since then, a string of projects have been put in place to reduce beach erosion.

But with another wet summer on the horizon, along with the Gold Coast being listed as one of the most at-risk locations for the gradual coastal erosion resulting from climate change, these measures will be tested.

Climate change and La Niña

Dr Strauss said the increasing number and intensity of severe weather events caused by climate change posed a challenge.

"The La Niña years increase relative to El Niño," he said.

"During a La Niña, [cyclones] tend to form a bit closer to the coast.

"Warmer water might cause tropical cyclones to form further south or track further south."

Dr Strauss said that could result in changes to the "wave climate", which pushes sand north along the coast and helps to naturally replenish eroded beaches.

"If that was to change we may have less [sand] transport along the coast, we may have more," he said.

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