Floods in South East Queensland follow a 40-year cycle, and planners should take note.
Engineering practice assumes that floods are randomly distributed but science suggests they are not. This raises questions about the reliability of flood infrastructure and management strategies.
Residents of Collaroy, NSW, got a painful lesson in the power of the ocean in June.
AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Many Australians live on the coast, but how much do we know about the risks? While average sea levels are relatively easy to gauge, the risk of flooding also depends on weather, landscape, and climate.
A large thunderstorm rolls over Sydney in 2015.
AAP Image/Newzulu/Haig Gilchrist
Severe storms bring a complex mixture of weather conditions, often in a very localised area. This unpredictability can make them very damaging, and very hard to study too.
The higher the plume, the bigger the problem.
Jim Peaco/Wikimedia Commons
When a bushfire rages so high it creates its own thunderstorm, it becomes a ‘firestorm’ - and makes life much more difficult for firefighters. We still have a lot to learn about what triggers them.
More heatwaves in store, but the exact effects on people are harder to predict.
AAP Image/Joe Castro
Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest type of natural disaster. But while we know a lot about the weather patterns behind them, more research is needed to forecast accurately their impacts on people.
The Millennium drought had a huge impact on the Murray-Darling river system.
Droughts are much bigger and slower than other natural disasters that hit Australia - meaning that despite their huge impacts, we still haven’t figured out how best to protect ourselves.
Knowing when and where this is going to happen would be useful.
AAP Image/Dan Peled
Floods are a costly part of Australian life, which means we need to get better at predicting exactly when - and how severely - they are likely to strike in the future.