Abnormally high ocean temperatures off northern Australia contributed to the extreme rainfall that flooded most of Queensland, across 1.3 million square kilometers over December 2010 and into 2011, scientists report, writes Nicky Phillips at the Melbourne Age. A Sydney researcher, Jason Evans, ran a series of climate models and found above average sea surface temperatures throughout December 2010 increased the amount of rainfall across the state by 25 per cent on average. In many places that translated to about an extra 4 inches of rain over a few days. The study did not look at the cause of ocean warming off Queensland, but Matthew England, a physical oceanographer, said climate change could not be excluded as a possible driver of this extreme rainfall event. While the flooding occurred during one of the strongest La Nina events on record it was insufficient to produce the extreme rainfall recorded, he said. Rather, a perfect storm of effects, those of the warmer ocean temperatures, the strong La Nina and tropical cyclone Tasha, combined to create an extreme weather event. Climate change can turn a bad event into a disastrous one.
Ocean temperature made Australia floods worse. Abnormally high ocean temperatures off the coast of northern Australia contributed to the extreme rainfall that flooded three-quarters of Queensland over the summer of 2010-11, scientists report. Melbourne Age