In only four days, some parts of Sydney, Australia have witnessed eight months of rain, following the intense flash floods the east coast suffered in March 2022. Over 50,000 people have been affected by the heavy rainfall and floods, with over 100 evacuation orders already in place. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, certain areas of the country have faced up to 800mm of water.
This is not the only extreme weather event that has affected Australia in recent years. Since March 2021, Canberra, Australia’s largest city has suffered from four major floods and between 2019 and 2020 there have been severe bush and wildfires that have destroyed the landscape. Australia has also faced droughts in many parts the country.
The extent of the damage done by the water is thought to have a massive impact on Australia, as lives, businesses, the environment, and homes are being affected.
One of the biggest concerns is the Warragamba Dam, which is the largest dam in Sydney. Before the rain fell, the dam was already at 97% capacity, the extent of the rainfall has caused the dam to spill over. This has led to scientists and the government considering whether the structure of the dam needs to be improved to prevent this happening again in the future.
Other problems have been caused by water run-off. Water run-off occurs when the ground cannot absorb any more water, which means that there is an increased chance of flooding. In Australia floods are occurring as the run-off is finding its way to the country’s waterways. These waterways are already at capacity meaning the water isn’t being carried away.
Scientists have concluded that there are many factors that have caused this increase in rainfall in Australia, and they are both human and environmental. Through the cooling of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean due to La Niña conditions, rainfall has increased in both eastern and southern Australia. The burning of fossil fuels is causing the Earth to warm up due to global warming, and this leads to further rainfall due to increased evaporation.
Since 1910, Australia’s temperature has risen by 1.5⁰C and if climate change continues to warm the planet, this temperature will continue to rise and the amount of rain that will fall will also increase. These weather events give a strong warning to Australia that they must do more to protect themselves from the effects of climate change and it is a stark warning to the world that action needs to be taken.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese stated: “if we continued to not take action globally on climate change, then extreme weather events would be more often and more intense”.