A Supercharged Climate: Rain Bombs, Flash Flooding and Destruction

10.03.22 By , , , , , , , and

The record-breaking and relentless deluge that has flooded towns and cities in Queensland and New South Wales is one of the most extreme disasters in Australian history, and the devastation is wide-ranging. It lasted days and flooded towns, causing tragic loss of life and submerging tens of thousands of homes and businesses. 

The new Climate Council report ‘A Supercharged Climate: Rain Bombs, Flash Flooding and Destruction’ explains how climate change is intensifying extreme rainfall and how the frequency of these events is likely to almost double with each degree of further global warming.

For many communities dealing with flood emergencies, this is the latest in a long line of climate change-driven extreme weather events they have faced in recent years, including unprecedented drought, unprecedented Black Summer bushfires, unprecedented powerful storms, and unprecedented scorching heatwaves. It is time for action.

Correction: An error was corrected in this report on Thursday March 10. It now correctly reads: A “rain bomb” hit Brisbane and southeastern Queensland with around 60 percent of the region’s average annual rainfall occurring within three days. Brisbane received almost the same amount of rain in three days than London in the UK typically does over an entire year.

AAP Image/Supplied by the Department of Defence, Bradley Richardson

Key findings 

1 Climate change is firmly embedded in the 2022 flooding emergency that swept through southeast Queensland and New South Wales with some regions experiencing rainfall that was simply off the charts. 

2. The relentless deluge that has flooded towns and cities in Queensland and New South Wales is one of the most extreme disasters in Australian history, and the devastation is wide ranging. 

3. For many communities dealing with flood emergencies, this is the latest in a long line of climate-fuelled extreme weather events they have faced recently. 

4. Extreme weather events are worsening under accelerating climate change. Global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions this decade will determine how much worse things become. 

“Climate change is playing out in real time here in Australia. We are dealing with a climate system on steroids. For many communities dealing with flood emergencies, this is the latest in a long line of climate-fuelled extreme weather events they have faced recently. Unless we act now and join the rest of the world to reduce emissions this decade, such disasters will only get worse.” 

Professor Will Steffen, Climate Councillor, climate change expert and ANU Emeritus Professor