Australian National Shipwrecks Database

Changing climate means less shipwrecks

By Amy Callaghan - Cosmos Online

Climate change has led to a decline in severe storms along Australia's notorious Shipwreck Coast – a graveyard for hundreds of ships during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Australian National Shipwrecks Database has a record of more than 700 vessels that have been sunk along the Shipwreck Coast, along the southwest of the state of Victoria, over the past 200 years.

These were often caused by fierce storms rolling in from the Southern Ocean, says a new study.

According to the research, published in the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal, these storm-related shipwrecks have declined over the past century.

While this is in part due to improved ship construction, forecasting and navigation, researchers wondered if it is also less stormy along the Victorian coastline today than in the 19th century.

A team from Monash University and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, both in Melbourne, used historic data to look at storm conditions along the Victorian coastline from 1865 to 2006.