Floods in Australia: science of floods

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Floods in Australia – Never underestimate troubled water

Flood is probably the natural peril Australia is most aware of. Major floods frequently isolate towns, create major disruptions to road and rail links, and can cause death. Widespread damage to houses and business premises as well as losses in agriculture are common. Practically every year there are flood losses, sometimes with devastating consequences.

Despite regular loss events, the consequences of flooding are still often underestimated – both in Australia and around the world. One reason for this is that almost no one expects the unexpected, even if it happens often, as is the case with this phenomenon. Floods, in particular the flash floods common in Australia, can happen anywhere – also in extremely dry regions. This element of surprise makes these events even more dangerous than they would otherwise already be.

Floods in Australia appears controllable

People tend to be less frightened of floods than of other natural hazards. Unlike earthquakes, for example, it is assumed that a flood can be controlled by appropriate measures. Most people think that when a flood happens, they will still be able to barricade themselves in or escape safely with their belongings.

Precautionary measures taken by the authorities, such as storm and flood warnings or flood control structures, also give people a sense of security.

But experience shows: extreme events can neither be entirely prevented, nor can they be completely controlled. Their frequency is likely to increase as climate change  progresses.

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