Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events

Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme events such as droughts and floods alongside ocean warming and acidification, increasing fluctuation in air temperatures and rising sea levels are posing significant threats to communities, ecosystems and the built environment.

Changes we are seeing

Australia’s weather patterns are demonstrating increases in flash flooding, drought and fire conditions.

  • Australia has warmed on average by up 1.47+/- 0.24 degrees Celsius since 19101.
  • There is an increase in extreme heat events associated with warming and a decline of rainfall across the south-west and south-east of Australia.

Increasing pressures are likely on resources such as water and energy.

  • Globally, droughts have increased in frequency by 29% since 2000 in comparison to the previous decade and the intensity is projected to increase2 .
  • The demand for groundwater is likely to increase given droughts and fires.

Natural disasters and longer-term climatic changes are accelerating risks (and costs implications) for infrastructure including waste, water and wastewater infrastructure.

  • Natural disasters cost $268 billion globally in losses and damages in 2020 globally3. In Australia the costs are projected to reach $39.3 billion by 20504.
  • Sea-levels are continuing to rise and increasing risks for coastal erosion.
  • Landfills, water and wastewater infrastructure are likely to be increasingly exposed to flooding and fires with potential for greater contamination (alongside maintenance and clean up).
  • Putrescible waste due to land or marine heat waves and ecosystem damage could increase.
  • There are possible bio-security impacts given the movement and spread of pests, weeds and diseases.

Investment in global and local innovative adaptation technologies and data solutions to build resilience is growing.

  • There is greater demand for community disaster resilience as well as ecological resilience and recovery.

Emergency response and risk management practices are becoming more prominent across public and private industry.