Storms more damaging due to climate change: Climate Council

07.06.16 By

Climate change is making storms like the one that has wreaked havoc on Sydney this week more damaging, the Climate Council said today.

The Climate Council’s Professor Lesley Hughes said coastal flooding events had tripled in Sydney in the 20th century and on present levels of climate change, today’s 1-in-100 year flood will occur every day or so by 2100.

“These storm surges are now riding in on a sea level that is much higher than it was before climate change really started to take hold,” she said.

“These east coast lows, while they’ve also been around for some time and often deliver intense rainfall, are occurring in an atmosphere that has about 7% more water vapour than it did fifty years ago. This increases the risk of more intense rainfall.

“More intense rainfall and higher sea levels have combined are making these kinds of storms more damaging. Australia is seeing the impacts of climate change right now, which only underpins how critical it is to phase out coal and move to renewable sources of energy.

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said the storms on the east coast highlighted why cuts to the CSIRO would damage Australia’s ability to understand, respond to and plan for a changing climate.

“Flights this week have been thrown into chaos by the flooding at Sydney Airport,” she said.

“We now live in a new and changing climate. Research is critical to ensure that we can prepare for the future, particularly our emergency and health services who are first responders to these types of events.

“If we don’t tackle climate change then more than $226 billion in commercial, industrial, road, rail and residential assets in Australia are at risk from rising sea levels,

“Governments and business rely on climate science to make billion-dollar decisions. Without it, they will be relying on guesswork.

“Climate modelling is the backbone of our ability to understand changes to the climate system. The information that is vital to coping with climate change and building preparedness for our worsening extreme weather events.

“Cutting further model development will leave us dangerously exposed to the escalating risks of climate change.”

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