INTENSE rainfall events such as the one that has caused flash flooding in Sydney and NSW’s South Coast are likely to become more frequent and intense in future as the climate warms, the Climate Council said today.
The Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen said a warming climate increases evaporation and a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, increasing the odds of heavy rainfall events.
The atmosphere can hold about 7 per cent more moisture for each degree of warming, research has shown.
“In future, it’s likely that heavy rainfall events will become more common, and will also become more intense in nature,” he said.
“Paradoxically, the number of days spent in drought and the intensity of droughts are also projected to increase in southern Australia. But when it rains, climate change is increasing the odds towards more intense rainfall.”
The comments came following the launch of the Climate Council’s new report Climate Change 2015: Growing Risks, Critical Choices which found the climate is changing more quickly than expected with larger and more damaging impacts.
The report found the risks of climate change for our wellbeing now look more serious at lower levels of climate change, strengthening the scientific case for urgent action.
Prof Steffen said Australia’s recently announced post-2020 emissions reduction targets were lagging behind the level of international action required to protect Australians from the impacts of worsening extreme weather events in future.
“As the escalating risks of climate change have become clearer and more disturbing, other countries have started to heed the warnings, putting in place tangible and ambitious policies,” he said.
“But Australia’s response to meeting the challenge of Paris is disappointingly weak; it is out of step with the science and out of step with most of the developed world.”
The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organization providing quality information to climate change to the Australian public.
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