Global climate change

Flash flood risk has increased over the past 50 years in Australia

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
7/31/2018, 2:20:30 PM

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New, peer-reviewed research from Newcastle University (UK) has found that there has a been an increase in short, intense rain events over Australia during the past 50 years, which has greatly increased the risk of flash and urban flooding.

The amount of water falling in hourly rain storms in Australia is increasing at a rate two to three times higher than what we would normally expect from the levels of regional and global warming. Warmer air is able to hold more moisture than colder air.

The research team studied observed data of hourly and daily rainfall extremes across Australia from 1986-1989 and 1990-2013.

Key excerpts from the Newcastle University report and professor Seth Westra co-author from the University of Adelaide, Australia......


"These changes are well above what engineers currently take into account when determining Australia's flood planning levels or designing storm water management and flood defense infrastructure.


"If we keep seeing this rate of change, we risk committing future generations to levels of flood risk that are unacceptable by today's standards."


Keep in mind, it was noted in the report that the observed increases of daily rainfall averaged over the whole Australian continent followed what would be expected for the current increases in warming. However, they are still within the bounds of what could be considered natural fluctuations of the climate and therefore cannot, at this point, be attributed to climate change.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Global climate change