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Title: The Coast of Australia
Author(s): Andrew D Short and Colin D Woodroffe
Date of Publication: 2009 Publisher: Cambridge
Pages:xii + 248 ISBN: 978 0 521 87398 7
Price: Format:Hard cover
Target Readership Senior Secondary







Content: 1 – Evolution of the Australian coast; 2 - Coastal processes; 3 - Coastal ecosystems; 4 - Estuaries and deltas; 5 - Beaches; 6 - Coastal dunes and barriers; 7 - Rocky coasts; 8 - Reef coasts; 9 - Human impact on the coast.

Review: coastal areas are becoming more popular and more under pressure than at any time in the past. We are in danger, as many have said, of 'loving the coast to death'. This situation is true of most places but must be especially true of Australia with 60% of the population with close access to beaches, some word famous areas e.g. Great Barrier Reef, and some famous tourist spots (Bondi beach comes to mind). However, with such fame there comes a price and these areas both need studying and protecting. Aiming to do both, the authors have considerable experience in coastal processes and have probably visited most beaches, reefs and cliffs along the 30,000+km coastline. Because there are so many diverse geographical and ecological aspects, this book could be seen to be a microcosm of all coastal areas.

We start with an introduction that defines coasts, outlines their geology, sea level changes (coastal locations), coastal sediments and transport. Now that the reader is up to speed, remaining chapters examine specific areas of coastal aspects. First up are coastal processes which starts, unusually, with a look at the main weather and climate patterns. This then leads us into the more detailed studies of waves, tides and currents. The chapter stops at this: resulting landforms one would normally expect to find come later. Chapter three highlights the key coastal ecosystems. With everything from tropical to temperate you can expect a fast tour through the main systems: marsh, mangrove, seagrass, reef and sandy and rocky beaches. Chapter four goes into deltas and estuaries. We might not be too strong on deltas but a range of wave and tide dominated waterways are outlined. For each one there's discussion on geography/geology and ecology. To complete the work there's a brief overview of estuaries by state. Chapter five looks at beaches in all their variety. The reader looks at beach classification, landform features and key currents of which the rip is by far the most widely discussed. For readers unfamiliar with the area, rips often create serious issues for swimmers (and lifeguards) and so are key beach safety features (one of the authors started his academic work looking at just such issues). Given this it's not surprising that this is, just, the longest chapter. Chapter six studies dunes and barriers. Dunes are particularly common in Australia and provide easy access to the beach. for that reason alone they are fragile and by describing the main dune and barrier types we can see why this is. as with other chapter, it finishes with a roundup of dunes in the coastal states. Chapter seven turns to rocky coasts. A brief outline of the main rock groups turns to consideration of coastal processes and the resultant landforms. Coral reefs are an Australian iconic vision and the Greet Barrier Reef is one of the most spectacular. However, there are many others and this chapter outlines their formation, landforms and stressors. Chapter nine considers the biggest impact on the coast - people - and shows what they are doing and how it can be managed. There's a final section looking at global warming which is a big issue right now because of the controversy over how this can best be managed.

This is an excellent book. It gives just the right level of information on all issues so it covers aspects many other texts leave out. In many ways this is the perfect introduction to coastal study and can be used/adapted to most of the world's coastal areas. what will sell it to beginner readers is the high quality of illustration. There are numerous colour photos making it almost like a small coffee-table book but with decent information. Presentation is absolutely top notch: it would tempt the most jaded reader - it's almost like a tourist brochure but for students. Anyone with an interest in coasts will get something out of this book. Definitely one for the library.





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