Flooding in Australia

Synthesis and Integrative Research Program


During December 2010 and January 2011, many regions in Australia were subjected to significant flooding under strong La Niña conditions. Flooding affected many large coastal cities in Queensland; a multitude of country inland towns in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania; and rural farming and mining properties. The massive scale of the floods resulted in the loss of more than 20 lives and unprecedented property and infrastructure damage.

Many climate projections for Australia indicate that, regardless of any efforts into mitigation activities, there is a strong likelihood of more frequent and more intense flooding in many parts of the country as a result of climate change. It is essential, that potentially affected communities and industry, as well as all levels of government, have access to sufficient knowledge to enable them to prepare and adapt effectively to such events. Such knowledge can be gained by studying impacts from events such as the January-February 2011 floods.

Following the floods, several government inquiries were initiated and are presently underway (e.g. Queensland Commission of Inquiry and Brisbane City Council Joint Flood Taskforce). The purpose of the Queensland Commission of Inquiry is to establish all aspects of the flood response (including the adequacy of the emergency response and weather forecasting) and the preparation and planning for future flood threats and risks, in particular the prevention of the loss of life including any legislative change needed. The Brisbane City Council taskforce considered similar issues and in particular issues of planning. While, these will provide recommendations that can ultimately be built into climate change adaptation practice in the longer term, additional research can be conducted to ensure value in a climate adaptation context.

NCCARF is calling for proposals that address the topic of Flooding in Australia. These should seek to gain insights for climate change adaptation from the experiences in the recent (2010-2011) floods.

NCCARF, in conjunction with stakeholders, has identified two project areas (see #1 and #2that will add information on risk awareness, response and future adaptation. Proposers may bid to address these topics, or may propose their own. In the latter case, strong justification for the usefulness of the project for climate change adaptation to changing flood occurrence must be provided. From this pool of proposals, NCCARF will select between two and three projects to go forward for funding, depending on the quality of submissions.

A third project area (see #3) has been identified that is designed to ensure that outcomes of the various flood enquiries that are relevant to adaptation are captured and presented to end-users in an easily accessible form. Further details of the three projects are outlined below. Provided there is a proposal of sufficient quality, this topic will definitely be funded.