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Analysis and Comment (46)

Floodwater plumes, like this one in Moreton Bay, do less damage to reefs that are in marine reserves. Floodwater plumes, like this one in Moreton Bay, do less damage to reefs that are in marine reserves. Healthy Waterways/supplied

Marine reserves saved coral reefs from Queensland floods

Marine reserves are a hot topic in Australia, with federal and state governments debating whether to allow recreational fishers to take fish from within their boundaries. But new research demonstrates…
We know what’s in store – now it’s time to do something about it. We know what’s in store – now it’s time to do something about it. AAP

The IPCC has spelled out the risks – now what do we do?

Despite the mounting evidence, there are still some who would deny the veracity of human-caused climate change and its potential to disrupt and harm our communities. Most dissenters rely on non-expert…
Even if the farmhouse stays dry, the crops are underwater. Even if the farmhouse stays dry, the crops are underwater. Steve Parsons/PA

Farmers, small businesses and the full cost of the wettest winter

With towns in the south and southwest flooded out, the government has offered £5,000 payments to help homeowners add flood protection to their homes, while small firms will enjoy a cut of a £10m fund to…
What lies beneath this watery landscape? What lies beneath this watery landscape? Steve Parsons/PA

Floods leave farms underwater, and farmers under pressure

I’ve been talking to farmers all this week, many of whom have had their fields underwater for a month or more. It is quite soul destroying to see the natural assets of your business, on which you depend…
Indoor mould can increase the risk of active asthma. Indoor mould can increase the risk of active asthma. Meg's my name/Flickr

Is your home harming you? Asthma, allergies and indoor mould

It is hard to escape indoor mould. It is most commonly found in the wet areas of the home, especially the bathroom and the kitchen, but it can grow anywhere. We all agree that it’s unsightly, but the bigger…
Chertsey: never have so many, owed so much, to one sausage. Chertsey: never have so many, owed so much, to one sausage. Ki Price/PA

Beyond sandbags – how to defend your house from flooding

For much of the 20th century, faith has rested in bigger and better defences to hold back floodwaters. But repeated flooding has shown that large defences cannot, and should not, be the sole focus. The…
‘Don’t worry, I’ve got hold of the plug.’ ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got hold of the plug.’ Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Upstream must work with downstream to fix flooding

With much of the UK still underwater and flooding set to continue, knee jerk reactions abound. Politicians bicker, flooded communities and farmers lobby their causes and calls are made to dredge rivers…
More of this to come. More of this to come. Steve Parsons/PA Archive

Get used to flooding, climate change will bring more of it

Flooding continues to afflict many parts of southern Britain. Areas of the Somerset Levels have been submerged for weeks, large parts of the Thames Valley are under water and the River Severn is bursting…
No use waiting for a politician to turn up. No use waiting for a politician to turn up. Rebecca Sandover

While ministers dither on floods, social media springs into action

I’ve just returned from sandbagging near the swollen River Parrett at Langport, a town next to the flooded Somerset Levels. There, local people are using new media to take action in the midst of a disaster…
Sometimes the choice is to flood town or country. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes the choice is to flood town or country. Sometimes it’s both. Ben Birchall/PA

Total flood defence is a myth: we must learn to live with the water

Floods happen. Rivers have always inundated their floodplains and the sea has always tried to reclaim land that has been taken from it. This is certainly true in Somerset, whose name derives from the Old…
The east coast of England in 1953. The east coast of England in 1953. PA

Are storm surges getting worse?

Brigid, another Atlantic storm, has hit Britain with heavy rain and gale-force winds, especially the already sodden west coast. The last few months have seen very wild weather, including 100mph winds during…
Role reversal: a river of land in fields of water. Role reversal: a river of land in fields of water. Tim Ireland/PA

The inconvenient truth: houses built on floodplains could flood

Ministers should be applauded for recognising that there’s simply no way we could tell the thousands of key workers and low income families, desperate for a decent home, that we can’t build any more new…
More appealing and often more effective than concrete flood barriers. More appealing and often more effective than concrete flood barriers. John Haynes

Restore our meadows, a most cost-effective flood defence

For the second winter running the UK has been hit by widespread flooding, accompanied by agonised debates over whether government is really committed to adequate spending on flood defence. Largely overlooked…
Swings and roundabouts: sea level rises are hard to predict. Swings and roundabouts: sea level rises are hard to predict. Danny Lawson/PA

Saving coastlines from flooding is an uncertain science

Coastal and river flooding struck Britain again this week with huge waves hitting southern and western coasts and around 100 flood warnings still in place by Wednesday evening. Disturbing but, sadly, not…
Tacloban City in the Philippines. Tacloban City in the Philippines. Troclaire

2013: the year in extreme weather

It seems every year has seen weather extremes in recent times. After 2012 brought Hurricane Sandy to the east coast of the United States and the wettest year ever for England, many may have expected a…
Is the government’s scheme already in deep water? Is the government’s scheme already in deep water? Steve Parsons/PA

Government flood insurance plan is already treading water

The government’s long-awaited plans on how to help the insurance industry provide flood insurance to those homes and properties most at risk was presented. They are promising, but have fundamental shortcomings…
Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? AAP/Dan Himbrechts

What firefighters say about climate change

You do not find many climate change sceptics on the end of [fire] hoses anymore… They are dealing with increasing numbers of fires, increasing rainfall events, increasing storm events. – A senior Victorian…
Yesterday’s early start to the bushfire season threatened homes in Sydney’s suburbs. Yesterday’s early start to the bushfire season threatened homes in Sydney’s suburbs. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Fire and flood: how home insurance can help us adapt to climate change

Australia is a harsh and volatile environment, subject to extremes of fire and flood. We’ve just seen a particularly early start to the bushfire season, with over 60 fires burning and at least two homes…
Wrexham, like this driver, is ill-prepared for floods and other climate change-related problems. Wrexham, like this driver, is ill-prepared for floods and other climate change-related problems. Matt Price/Flickr

How ready for climate change is your town or city?

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities or urban areas, which means our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is tied up with cities' ability to cope. Responsible for more than…
The lights are on and no one gut hurt. The lights are on and no one gut hurt. Roozbeh Rokni

Rain check: how Toronto escaped flooding disaster

For almost sixty years Hurricane Hazel has stood as the most extreme storm on recorded in City of Toronto but this week, on July 8th, a new record was set. A series of storms hit the city late in the afternoon…
Passau, Germany under record flood waters. But who will pay for the clean up? Passau, Germany under record flood waters. But who will pay for the clean up? Steve Parsons/PA

Governments shirk their responsibilities in the name of ‘resilience’

The 21st century appears to be one riven by shocks - whether terrorist, financial or climatic. In the aftermath, institutions, people, and societies more generally are frequently encouraged to be more…
Australia is hanging on to flood mitigation measures that other countries have left behind. Australia is hanging on to flood mitigation measures that other countries have left behind. AAP Image/Pamela Blackburn

Three major floods, four reviews, but still lessons to learn

The last few years provided plenty of data to help us reform our approach to floods. With devastating flooding in Queensland and Victoria in 2011 and 2013, we should have learned a great deal about which…
Natural disasters don’t just leave those affected rebuilding their lives but also struggling to find meaning behind the tragedy. Natural disasters don’t just leave those affected rebuilding their lives but also struggling to find meaning behind the tragedy. Facebook CFA Victoria/AAP

Floods and fires: the struggle to rebuild, the search for meaning

This summer another bout of floods, fires, and cyclones has struck, culminating most recently in out-of-control fires across Victoria in which at least one home was lost. When we see the loss of property…
A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and that can lead to more extreme rainfall. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and that can lead to more extreme rainfall. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Increases in rainfall extremes linked to global warming

Rainfall extremes are increasing around the world, and the increase is linked to the warming of the atmosphere which has taken place since pre-industrial times. This is the conclusion of a recent study…
Flooding risk is often used as an argument against greater environmental flows for the Murray-Darling, but graziers would benefit greatly from floods. Flooding risk is often used as an argument against greater environmental flows for the Murray-Darling, but graziers would benefit greatly from floods. Richard Kingsford

More flooding in the Murray-Darling basin could be good news for farmers

The history of our development of the Murray-Darling Basin is one of constraining and constricting its rivers’ flows. Many of the basin’s floods are now captured in dams for later constrained release to…
We’re just coming to grips with Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, one of the many climate modes that cause Australia’s wide and wonderful range of climate variability. We’re just coming to grips with Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, one of the many climate modes that cause Australia’s wide and wonderful range of climate variability. mattharvey1/Flickr

Decade to decade changes in our climate – what’s really going on?

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
The climate system operates with a range of discrete modes. The climate system operates with a range of discrete modes. Patrick Hoesly

Explainer: climate modes and drought

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
Scientists' job is to brief us on how future climate might affect our lives, even when all the data isn’t in. Scientists' job is to brief us on how future climate might affect our lives, even when all the data isn’t in. Rae Allen

Droughts & flooding rains: what is due to climate change?

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
Rain’s coming: does that mean there’s no such thing as climate change? Rain’s coming: does that mean there’s no such thing as climate change? Georgie Sharp

A land of (more extreme) droughts and flooding rains?

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
No matter how friendly your detergent is, it does damage. No matter how friendly your detergent is, it does damage. NPS Photo/Neal Herbert

Environmentally friendly pollutants - what your detergent does to waterways

After the big wet, spare a thought for the health of your waterways and the substances that wash into them. Bacteria are important to the health of the waterways running through our backyards. As decomposers…
How do farmers cope with the cycle of floods and droughts? How do farmers cope with the cycle of floods and droughts? recoverling/Flickr

Drought, flood and a whole lot else: the lived experience of farm households

It has been a summer of flooding for farmers in northeast Victoria and NSW. Reporters talk about the effect on crops, pastures and yields. But what about the effect on farming households? How do they cope…
No one likes flooding, but removing trees isn’t the answer. No one likes flooding, but removing trees isn’t the answer. AAP

Can’t see the water through the trees - a better plan to reduce floods

Clearing vegetation in Victoria’s waterways to reduce flood impacts is one of the more ludicrous proposals to emerge from any modern Australian government. On March 6 2012, the Hon. Peter Walsh, Minister…
A memorial has been unveiled in flood-devastated Grantham as residents move to higher ground. A memorial has been unveiled in flood-devastated Grantham as residents move to higher ground.

Moving Grantham? Relocating flood-prone towns is nothing new

Today marks a year since flooding devastated south-east Queensland. Research has shown that some of the worst effects of the floods were due to poor land-use planning. Since the floods, residents of the…
Australians willingly helped their neighbours when it was needed during the Queensland floods of 2011. Australians willingly helped their neighbours when it was needed during the Queensland floods of 2011. Flickr/RaeAllen

Do you know your neighbour? Lending a hand and the Queensland floods

Neighbours are a source of growing aggravation in Australia and we are lodging more official complaints about each other than ever before. Excessive noise or odour, inadequate levels of property maintenance…
How does Queensland tourism recover after a cyclone and floods earlier this year? How does Queensland tourism recover after a cyclone and floods earlier this year? AFP Photo/Paul Crcok

Danger in paradise: resurrecting tourism after natural disasters

This year’s natural disasters have been an omnipresent and unwelcome theme impacting on tourism to Japan, New Zealand, Queensland and Thailand. Long after the initial horror of a natural disaster, the…
When it comes to weather, scientists and the media have different understandings of risk. When it comes to weather, scientists and the media have different understandings of risk. Ameel Khan

Spinning uncertainty? The IPCC extreme weather report and the media

The “reasonable person” would agree that disaster risk is best avoided. Under a changing climate, how exposed people are to risk and how socially and physically vulnerable they are affects how often disasters…
Organising the information gathered during crises is key to better responses. Organising the information gathered during crises is key to better responses. Lindsay Hallam/AFP

Crisis management: using Twitter and Facebook for the greater good

With new technology comes new ways of communicating with one another in times of crisis. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow important information to be shared widely and instantaneously. But…
Scientific debate isn’t about ‘if’, but about ‘when’ and ‘how much’. Scientific debate isn’t about ‘if’, but about ‘when’ and ‘how much’. Matti Mattila/Flickr

Real climate debates: a report from the IUGG General Assembly

In 2100, will sea level be one metre higher than now, or only 50cm? The Thames Barrage is designed to protect London from flooding by storm surges in up to one in a thousand year events. With 50cm higher…
Planning is the cheapest way of avoiding major flood damage. Planning is the cheapest way of avoiding major flood damage. AAP

Averting disaster: why we shouldn’t build on Australian floodplains

The tragic events of last summer confirmed that floods are among the most costly and dangerous natural disasters Australians face. Our response must start with a thorough examination of how we can better…

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