Australia could soon be experiencing more severe flooding in the coming years triggered by intense storms due to the increasing warming temperatures.
Civil engineers at the University of New South Wales noted in a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience that warmer temperatures tend to impact rainfall patterns. Scientists said that more intense downpours are a product of warmer temperatures. The byproduct is larger volumes of water even if the downpour occurred even in just a short period.
Analyzing close to 40,000 storms across Australia over the past 30 years, researchers saw warming temperatures significantly disrupted rainfall patterns. The more extreme, warmer temperatures produced the most intense downpours that dumped larger volumes of water over less time. In contrast, the least intense periods of precipitation are getting weaker.
Researchers warned if the trend continues with future warming, flooding brought by short-term extreme bursts of rainfall will increase. This meant Australia’s existing infrastructure may not be able to handle the floods. “It will spill over,” study co-author Ashish Sharma said.
Sharma warned most areas in Australia can expect to see intensification in the magnitude of flash flooding in smaller catchments, particularly those in the urban or residential areas.
Scientists said the forecast jump in flood peaks will be:
– 19 percent for Hobart
– 12 percent for Sydney
– 10 percent for Perth
– 45 percent in Darwin
The civil engineers called on the respective governments of these areas to consider and start redesigning sewage and road infrastructure, as well as update guidelines advising residents where it’s safe to build homes.
“Unless you fix the sewers and the storm drainage network you will have problems,” Sharma said.
Kevin Hennessy, scientist from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said Australia will feel temperatures warming to 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century if greenhouse gases continue to increase at their current rate.
“We know the world is warming. We know that there have been changes in sea level rises and extreme weather events. And we expect more of the same in the future.”