Extreme storms and flash flooding are coming to Australia

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  • The latest research shows rain storms are intensifying in Australia.
  • And the level of rain is far higher than urban planners anticipated.
  • Scientists say to expect more urban flooding and flash flooding.

Extreme wet weather is on the way to Australia.

According to the latest research, rain storms are intensifying more rapidly than would be expected with global warming,

These heavy and short rain storms are likely to lead to increasing flash floods and urban flooding.

The landmark study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found increasingly short, intense rain storms over Australia in the past 50 years.

The storms are substantially larger than anticipated under climate change.

The team of scientists, led by Newcastle University in the UK, and involving the University of Adelaide, shows that the amount of water falling in short intense storms in Australia is increasing at a rate two to three times higher than expected, with the most extreme events showing the largest increases.

“This large increase has implications for the frequency and severity of flash floods, particularly if the rate stays the same into the future,” says study co-author Seth Westra, an Associate Professor from the University of Adelaide’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering.

“It seems counter intuitive when large parts of Australia are now in drought, but we need to remember Australian droughts are often broken by severe floods.

“We have always been a country of weather extremes, and it seems that climate change is causing both the dry and wet extremes to intensify.

“These changes are well above what engineers currently take into account when determining Australia’s flood planning levels or designing stormwater management and flood defence 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.”

Lead author Dr Selma Guerreiro from Newcastle University, UK, says it was thought there was a limit on how much more rain could fall during these extreme events as a result of rising temperatures.

But that upper limit has been broken.

“The important thing now is to understand why rainfall is becoming so much more intense in Australia and to look at changes in other places around the world,” says Guerreiro.

“How these rainfall events will change in the future will vary from place to place and depend on local conditions besides temperature increases.”

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