Guest essay by Eric Worrall
In 2021 the ABC provided historical records showing a rapid series of floods is not unusual for Brisbane. In 2022, major flooding events in quick succession is proof the carbon demon walks among us.
Worse weather and more floods: The IPCC report contains warnings Australia should heed
By national science, technology and environment reporter Michael Slezak
This week we saw large parts of the country engulfed by flood waters.
People fleeing torrents raging through their living rooms, others wading neck-deep across rivers that were once roads. Some clung to their roofs, dotted like islands in a sea of murky brown, others rescued by neighbours in dinghies.
Some were trapped by landslides. Some even lost their lives.
This week, we also saw the world’s most comprehensive analysis of what climate change was doing to us. How it’s going to get worse, and what we can do to prepare.
Climate change is already upending the lives of billions of people around the world and will definitely get worse over the coming years and decades.
Continuing warming — and worsening impacts — are inevitable, with some of those impacts beyond our ability to adapt.
For example, the increasing heat will kill hundreds more people in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, no matter what. But it will kill hundreds more again, if we don’t act quickly to cut emissions.
The projections about future flooding are incredibly worrying. The report says with sea level rise of just 0.5m — which we will likely see this century, and maybe as soon as 2050 — what is currently considered a “one-in-100-year flood event” could happen “several times a year”.
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-06/climate-change-to-intensify-weather-in-australia-ipcc-report-say/100882692
Just a year ago, in 2021, the ABC said something quite different about Brisbane’s tendency to flood.
What astounds about floods in Brisbane is that they continue to take us by surprise
ABC Weather / By Kate Doyle Posted Sat 16 Jan 2021 at 6:00am Saturday 16 Jan 2021 at 6:00am
A decade ago, as Brisbane’s record floods receded, many residents were left shocked and awed that such a devastating inundation could happen to a modern city.
But while there is no denying Queensland’s rainfall events of late 2010 and early 2011 were exceptional, Brisbane had flooded before — and it will flood again.
It is a history we can ill afford to forget as we continue to live and build on the flood plain.
The most astounding thing about floods in Brisbane is that they continue to take us by surprise.
Even the official Commission of Inquiry set up in the wake of the 2011 floods stated:
“The disastrous floods which struck south-east Queensland in the week of January 10, 2011 were unprecedented, in many places completely unexpected, and struck at so many points at once that no government could be expected to have the capacity to respond seamlessly and immediately everywhere, and in all ways needed.”
Yet there have been many examples of floods in Brisbane before 2011.
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-16/brisbane-flood-history-should-not-take-people-by-surprise/13051826
In 1973, the government approved construction of the Wivenhoe Dam on the Brisbane River, which proved its worth in 1983, when the partially constructed dam mitigated flooding which would have inundated Brisbane.
So what went wrong?
One possible answer is population pressure, and failure to adequately invest in improved facilities.
In 1983, Brisbane had a population of just over 1.1 million people. Today the Brisbane population stands at around 2.4 million.
Head commissioner Catherine Holmes admitted there is no doubt that these floods took the state of Queensland, which is more accustomed to drought, by surprise. Referring to the final report, she added: “Anyone who is genuinely interested in how we manage flood risk will read it closely – all parts of it.”
“A great deal can be done to improve readiness to deal with disaster generally, but it is impossible that any government could be permanently ready to come at once to the assistance of everyone needing help in a disaster of that scale and suddenness, unless it were to maintain a standing force of rescue personnel beyond the present capacity of society to fund.”
The commission hopes that this report and the interim report will serve as a detailed record for the future, of what happened in the floods and where things went wrong. However, it is in looking to the future and at longer term strategies that worries Holmes.
“Years of drought did not promote rigour in flood planning, whether in relation to disaster response, dam management or land use. Complacency about flood prevailed, at least in parts of the state, over many years,” she said. “And there is a risk that the recommendations made here will be enthusiastically taken up in the short term, but, absent another flood disaster in the next few years, priorities will drift and the lessons will be forgotten.”
…Read more: https://www.waterpowermagazine.com/features/featurequeensland-floods-the-final-report/
In the leadup to the 2011 and 2013 floods, after years of drought, dam operators were under pressure to ensure adequate water supplies to Brisbane’s growing population, and were very reluctant to release water.
The weather systems which caused the 2011 and 2013 floods could easily have missed the headwaters of the Wivenhoe dam. If dam operators had released precious water, and the storm systems missed, they would have been raked over the coals for acting too quickly and causing a water supply crisis. Only a direct hit had the potential to cause major floods. Anything else would have been a welcome capacity topup.
This reluctance to release water was not unreasonable. These storm systems are unpredictable. Just a few days ago, the Queensland government ordered schools to close, because a huge storm system was forming and threatening major disruption – then apologised for alarming people, after the storm system unexpectedly blew out to sea.
So what can be done to improve this situation?
In my opinion Wivenhoe’s original flood mitigation function has likely been compromised by Brisbane’s population growth. Dam operators are in an impossible situation, in which they have to choose between being fired for releasing too much water, if the storm system misses, or being fired for not releasing enough water if the storm system hits.
The obvious solutions are:
- Increase capacity of the Brisbane river dam system.
- Increase the capacity of other dams, and pipe water to Brisbane, to alleviate pressure to store too much water in Wivenhoe.
- Build new flood control channels or enhance existing channels, through some of the most expensive real estate in Australia.
All of these options would be expensive and unpopular. Any scheme other than increasing the capacity of Wivenhoe would face stiff opposition, from people who would be legitimately concerned that keeping millions of Brisbane voters happy would be treated by politicians as a higher priority than solving their problems.
Luckily the Queensland Government has a multi-billion dollar budget which could be cancelled and reallocated without causing disruption to any essential services – the billions of dollars in subsidies the Queensland Government currently hands out for building more solar energy capacity.
Whether the pressure to act this time will be sufficient for them to ditch their expensive and wasteful virtue signalling and build infrastructure people actually need, only time will tell.
I strongly recommend anyone interested in further analysis read Roger Pielke Jr.’s 2011 blog post on the historical perspective of Brisbane floods.
Update (EW): h/t Jeff Alberts – Fixed some typos.
I recall similar problems inGermany with operators retaining too much water in a flood control/hydroelectric dam, in that case being power production.
During heavy rains and the dam is full, the water must be released otherwise the possibility of damaging the dam is very high and the consequences could be more disastrous than the flooding from the water released from the dam. When rainfall monitoring and predicting the incoming flow to the dam reservoir was very primitive the operator makes an estimate based on on experience and often on gut feel. The practice is still prevalent today and dams are often blamed for the excess flooding. The basic question to ask is “What would be the river flow or flooding without the dam?” In simpler term could the water released simply equal or slightly higher than the inflow. For dams with large reservoir area, the reservoir provides time lag and even dampens the flooding amplitude. Off course this may work if the operator sticks to the normal maximum water level rather than being greedy and filling the dam close to the spilling level such that his only option would be to release water much bigger than the flow without the dam.
The problem with the Brisbane floods in 2011 was that the risk equation had changed – except in the mindset of those who did not want to run short of water.
There had been investment in a water network and a desalination plant sat Tugun (that really was not needed, but was one of several that was constructed in the aftermath of the previous drought. As these could provide supply in the event of another period of low inflows into Wivenhoe, the risk of running out of water was diminished substantially and space behind should have been accorded greater value relative to water in storage. The dam levels were kept high and emergency discharges were then necessary to protect the integrity of the dam – exacerbating the flood downstream, when one purpose in building the dam was flood protection. (In addition to this and water supply, it also has 500MW of pumped storage hydro).
One of the arguments used by the environmental lobby and naturally the BBC for the reintroduction of beavers to the UK is that their dams will control floods.
But beavers like to keep their dams full and the surrounding area is waterlogged or nearly so.
So I can’t see beavers making any difference to flooding downstream of their homes.
I should say I’ve nothing against beavers although I can understand why some landowners might not be so keen.
As long as they are wide open, no-one should be overly concerned.
Yes, but Greta told me that beavers are so cuddly!
do you? I thought you’d have remembered this:
‘The heavy rainfall in the south of North Rhine-Westphalia and north of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany produced accumulations which averaged 100 to 150 mm (3.9 to 5.9 in) in 24 hours, equivalent to more than a month’s worth of rain. In Reifferscheid, 207 mm (8.1 in) fell within a nine-hour period while Cologne observed 154 mm (6.1 in) in 24 hours. Some of the affected regions may not have seen rainfall of this magnitude in the last 1,000 years.’
That’s one of 4 similar extreme rain events in less than 12 months…
The authorities were warned of the likelihood of flooding four days in advance by the European flood warning system but did nothing to alert the citizens of the affected areas.
You know that but deliberately ignore it.
There have been at least a dozen floods that were more extreme over the last 500 years.
In 1975 we had our Carthage, TN office flooded by the Caney Fork River. The TVA decided to keep the Center Hill Dam, above Carthage, full to the brim, as well as the Percy Priest Dam downstream, in order to produce more hydroelectric power for the coming hot summer. During an exceptionally rainy spring there was no place for the water to go except into our office, warehouse, neighboring homes, and the bottom land of Senator Albert Gore’s farm.
More dams is the obvious answer Eric, unfortunately green tape is the handbrake.
Gympie can blame the Neoceratodus forsteri.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions most senior executive has the answer to dams overflowing resulting in flooding, she wants the people in Sydney City and suburbs to turn all of their household taps on and flush the toilets to lower than main Warragamba Dam level.
She was serious !!!
That dam when full holds more than five years water supply, it is not the only dam supplying the Sydney Basin.
And this person is supposed to be the spear head of Australian industrial relations and bed buddies with Labor Party policy. Another reason not to vote them.
Not unusual. 99% of people don’t know the difference between fluvial and pluvial flooding. And of course the claims about 1 in 100 years floods is always misunderstood and the difference between 1 in 50 years 2% isnt that different in flood peak from 1 in 100 yrs 1%.
Weather remains very unpredictable and Climate Change even more so. Whatever dam operators do will always be seen as inappropriate. It is always excellent to see the other side fighting amongst itself.
JUST BUILD MORE DAMS!
Over the past seventy years or more the United Nations has signed treaties and agreements with member nations effectively giving the UN the powers to interfere in the internal affairs of member nations, and for example, UN Agenda 21 – Sustainability, covers many areas and one of the first after Agenda 21 was signed by the Federal Labor Keating Government around 1990 and followed by legislation and regulations enforced at all three levels of Australian governments (Federal, States and Local Councils) was State lands and forests converted to National Parks and banning of new dams (sites identified for new dams were abandoned).
The Sydney water supply Warragamba Dam has been planned for raising the dam wall but even that is subject to UN approval, and local Green groups also opposing the project.
Dam construction on a river basin within the territorial boundaries of a sovereign state is cover by its own legislation. For rivers flowing across several sovereign states dam construction may be subject to international treatise and in case of conflict, with or without a governing treaty, this could be subject to international arbitration. There is an international NGO called ICOLD or International Commission On Large Dam established in 1928 with a very outdated definition of large dams based the technology at that time although it published some updated guidelines. Just like climate change, dam building especially in developing countries are subject to interference from international NGOs that give semblance of UN interference. It is not unusual to find foreigners and foreign based organizations strongly opposing to dam building in developing countries funding and instigating the local population to oppose the initiative. I am not familiar with the Australian water resources laws but being an island continent, the development of dams should be purely a domestic concern .
about time we ripped em up and told the UN to shove it!!
weve got enough homegrown greentards as it is
Or we could stop building in rivers.
If you are flooded by a 1 in 100 year flood you are living in the river.
As I said the other day, problem resolution boils down to this:
1. What is the problem?
2. What is the root cause of the problem?
3. What are the possible solutions to this problem?
4. What is the best solution to this problem?
This report shows that the problem is flooding in Brisbane.
It also shows that there are possible solutions to this problem.
But just when it is time to identify the best solution to the problem:
Lets build more solar energy farms.
How in the hell can that have ANYTHING to do with the problem???
SMH – over and over. I’m getting dizzy.
”How in the hell can that have ANYTHING to do with the problem???”
Because if we (AU) were net zero now, the temperature would drop by about 0.003 degrees in 30 years time…..and that’s a lot! No chance of any more floods.
the floods will wash away all the solar farms and all of the windmills and with any luck, Greta Thunderberger.
A possible alternative: Invest in large scale water purification and desalinization systems powered by nuclear generation to ensure robust, green, and weather independent, future suppy.
“In the 1973″
OMG! Is that THE 1973??
Yeah, yeah 🙂
Quote:”others wading neck-deep across rivers
Absolute complete garbage.
The human animal finds it near impossible to remain standing in moving water any higher than its knees.
Not a difficult experiment – try it.
I’ve personally scared myself shitless driving a 7 ton 120HP 4WD tractor across a ‘raging river’ that was little more than 2 feet deep.
never underestimate, or trivialise, the power of water.
climate scientists take good note
You are correct.
But there is also a velocity component.
Velocity x Depth combination is what counts.
For normal residential streets where elderly or toddlers walk the threshold is very low. V =1m/s and Depth = 300mm is enough to knock a toddler over.
For modern housing estate design this significantly reduces the ability For engineers to use roadways for floodpaths.
Peta, you’ve beclowned yourself, once again. Neck deep, no. Knee-deep is easy. Thigh deep is not easy but not too hard either. Crotch high is very hard, but not impossible. That’s why they make waist high waders for fishing. DUH. I myself have stood in a fast flowing river thigh deep many times while fishing for steelhead. I could even do it when I was a skinny teenager.
The dangers of flash flooding – IMR
Lets tell the people that we can avoid Brisbane flooding if we install more solar panels and wind turbines. Meanwhile Australia needs to keep exporting coal and iron ore to China so they can make all these new energy extractors.
In reality, Brisbane will continue to flood each time there is persistent La Nina conditions in the Pacific.
In the long run, La Nina will become the prevailing condition as perihelion moves ever later than the austral summer solstice. More water in Australia and less in North America. North America will return to the dry old days of 3,000 years ago – dust bowl conditions in the west and ice mountains in the east.
A should be obvious point to consider is how many Queensland cities and coastal town are built on flood prone land, the reason why the architectural design known as Queenslander Houses are built on very high timber foundations.
Well the older houses, in more recent decades houses on floating concrete slabs have been been given development application approval and on sub-divisions where flooding is inevitable from time to time.
A should be obvious point to consider is how many Queensland cities and coastal town are built in flood prone land, the reason why the architectural design known as Queenslander Houses are built on very high timber foundations.
Well the older houses, in more recent decades houses in floating concrete slabs have been been given development application approval and on sub-divisions where flooding is inevitable from time to time.
I spent my pre-school years in Quay Street Bulimba. It was my parent’s wish to move to higher ground and we did that when I was in grade 2 – literally highest residential ground on the eastern side of MtGravatt, just below the water storage reservoir that fed the suburb.
That Quay Street property is now worth more than a million dollars and remains flood prone. Not as bad as the upper reaches but still gets the land covered in water. Flood insurance is out of reach for most in these low lying areas for obvious reasons.
Complaining to the ABC is pointless, it’s a staff collective run without oversight or responsibility so it is Michael Slezak (MPhil) who ought to be ashamed of himself.
Exploiting distress due to recurring natural events to proselytize for the climate change cult is pre-Enlightenment coming from someone who supposedly tutored ‘Introduction to Logic’ at Sydney University.
Very well said
I have a chart in front of me showing the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) Queensland Australia’s records of 1890-1899 flooding summary where year after year in succession severe flooding occurred throughout the east coast of Australia. Is this not a constant frequency that the “scientists” claim is happening now with “climate change”?
I believe the great Federation Drought occurred after those years giving Australia credence to the poem with words: “A land of drought and flooding rains”. I also believe that a drought will hit Australia when an El Nino comes into effect again.
Was Climate Change in progress in 1890?
I owned a house in Queensland and fully renovated it, and added an extension. When the earth auger was drilling holes for the foundation timber stumps round river pebbles and larger rocks were extracted and further investigation revealed an old water course or creek bed that had been filled in a long time ago, my house was built in the 1930s. The area was on the Mary River which floods often when the drought breaking rains commence.
My point being that land for housing has been changed ignoring potential flooding events.
Actually, the climate has been “changing” for approximately 3.5 billion years..
The Federation Drought rather put paid to the idea that “the rain follows the plough” which had gained popularity during the preceding wet period.
— what is currently considered a “one-in-100-year flood event” could happen “several times a year”.
I have have been involved in urban flood mitigation design and construction for more than twenty years.
I will continue to call BS on anyone makes subjective or qualitative claims about increase/decrease rainfall, drought or floods without providing quantitative data for the actual location.
But, but more co2 leads to a warmer atmosphere which holds more water. I heard it just yesterday on the ABC from a couple of self proclaimed experts. It must be true, it just must!
Flooding history from more than a year a go need not be consulted.
I was born in Brisbane in 1949 and lived there until 1978.
The last cyclone to hit Brisbane was in 1956( or thereabouts)
The 1973 flood was the result of a Cyclone near miss to the North and water was 10 feet deep in the front yard of my mother’s Queenslander at East Brisbane.It stopped about 1foot under the floor. The people who purchased my mother’s house developed under it and it went under in 2011.
There has not been a Cyclone hit or near miss since 1973 and this is very overdue.
I can recall being in the foyer of a motel near Parliament house where the flood levels were marked on the wall .1892-93 was about twice as high as subsequent floods.
It is remarkable that people forget about floods within a few years and property values rise to be comparable to non flooded areas.
People never learn.
I was there too.
G’Day Phillip and others,
Another place for ‘marked’ flood levels, at least they were there in the 1950’s. The railway station at Ipswich. They were on the wall of the stairs leading up to street level, about half-way up.
So voters in Brisbane, in simple terms these are your choices.
2.Vote for any party that does not waste public money grant supporting part time energy supplies, but does support flood mitigation. That will keep your house and belongings dry and also provide additional recreation space for everyone, including wildlife.
Choose wisely, because personal choice, is what true democracy is all about.
The recent weather event that occured here in SE Queensland was not “unprecedent” as the result of “climate change” as widely reported. In February 1969, a very similar rain system started just off the coast near Feaser Island and just sat there. At that time, Rainbow Beach was an embrionic settlement and recorded 40 inches over five days, an average of 8 inches a day. This time, the system formed just inland and a bit further south and very slowly moved in a southerly direction. It is simply weather and sometimes it can go to extremes. At the time, 1969, the climate science consensus was that the world was heading into an ice age.
The Wivenhoe Dam operators, SEQ Water, do not rely on weather predictions for good reason. However, they need real time rainfall data in the catchment to determine whether to release water or not. This data was lacking in 2011 and that fact was noted in the Inquiry Report. What is needed is more automatic rainfall stations throughout the catchment area so that there is sufficent real time data on which to calculate inflow volumes and then base decisions to release or not.
It should also be noted that this latest flood in Brisbane was not so much a riverine flood but rather due to the local creeks feeding the river unable to handle the runoff from intense rainfall over three days in Brisbane City itself.
From the official graph above the 1840, & the 1893 floods were only slightly less than TWICE as deep as these last couple of floods.
I wonder what caused the climate change that precipitated those much bigger floods?
Every now and then the plant food bunches up in certain areas. I’ve collected all the opinions of climate scientists about that and just need a grant to feed them into the computer for the answer to why is it so?
Lesson 10 – Atmospheric Pressure – Properties of Gases – Demonstrations in Physics – YouTube
Michael Slezak, 2 degrees in “Philosophy of Science”, a champion of the “Past State Hypothesis”, which suggest a low-entropy state of the Universe after a Big Bang, and Director of an Arts Festival. When I’m looking for a scientific mind, with a track record of professional results, I won’t ever listen to Michael Slezak. His ramblings are all the better for the Doomsday CAGW crowd to consume, and it sounds scientificy. Forget about it.
hmm the huge hail took out a LOT of rooftop solar 😉 dunno about the farm setups or the wind systems
those issues dont get a mention as they try the climatechange dunnit routines again
even though la nina did it
From the article: “Climate change is already upending the lives of billions of people around the world and will definitely get worse over the coming years and decades.”
A ridiculous, unsubstantiated assertion.
If you don’t have any evidence for something, and yet you claim that something exists, that means you are a liar.
The 2011 floods were described as 1 in 100 years, with people not expected to see the like again in their lifetime… now they have worse floods, described as at the 1 in 1,000 year level.
climate change has increased the probability and severity of floods in the region
Any so called 1 in 1000 year events are nonsense, where nobody knows how rainfall varies in a small locality over a period of time much longer then we have data for to this detail.
The Darwin monsoons occur in guess what summer in the SH and every time they occur flooding will occur.
The wet season (November – April)
The wet season in Darwin is characterised by high humidity, monsoonal rains and storms. Average temperatures range from 24.7 – 32 °C (76.5 – 89.6°F), and humidity can push past 80 per cent. The average annual rainfall is 1727.3 mm (68 inches) and January is the wettest month.
Reducing CO2 to pre-industrial level will not change this and flooding will always occur. The longer the duration of events, the more likely worse flooding will occur and this doesn’t require any increase in temperature from normal.
griff. how many times do you have to be told that just because you have a 1 in whatever year event this year does not mean you can’t have a similar event the following year or the year after that and so on.
Simple probability with a Normal distribution is difficult for many people.
Auto-correlation and alternative shaped distributions are even more difficult, and for far more people.
They are even more difficult to understand, when you actively work at not understanding.
We’ve been observing Australian weather for only about 100 years. The idea that we know what a 1 in 1000 year event is, is ridiculous.
Regardless, 1 in 1000 just means there is a 0.1% chance of such even happening in any given year. It never, ever meant, it would only happen once every 1000 years.
Only completely ignorant people ever believed it would.
It ranges from 150 to 230 years, but certainly for a much shorter period than many places.
Floods are quite difficult, because their course is the result of a combination of multiple variable factors.
” now they have worse floods , described at at the 1 in 1000 year level ………..climate change has increased the probability and severity of floods in the region ” ………………..The Brisbane River Highest Annual Flood Peaks graph displayed above – that you must have observed – shows the Brisbane region flood peaks clustered in the 1840s and 1890s exceeded the magnitude of the 2011 La Nina floods that were in turn surpassed by the 1974 deluge Nothing that you wrote bears any relation to reality ………,……………To paraphrase Orwell’s 1984 did the party tell you to reject the evidence of your own eyes and ears or do you believe your delusions ?.
1 in 100 years is technically incorrect. Its 1% annually , and yes recurring in a short period always has happened too. The reasons are that storms aren’t randomly distributed, and can occur in times of increased occurrence , largely related to Indian ocean oscillatio
There is an Australian Federal election this year slated for May ……After Labor lost the unlosable 2019 climate election in 2019, it would be fair to surmise the ABC is barracking for, and pushing the simpatico climate alarmist propaganda of Labor and the Greens .. Never mind the 2018 IPCC Report SR 15 – Extreme Weather Findings , determined ” There is low confidence due to limited evidence ,…that anthropogenic climate change has affected the frequency and magnitude of floods ” Nothing has changed in three years …….Notice the sensationalist ABC palimpsest dishonestly conflated Queensland’s natural La Nina downpours and swollen riverine floods with projected sea level rise [ The Queensland floods are not sea transgressions in the manner of Hurricane Katrina ] and future flooding : ” This week we saw large parts of the country engulfed by flood waters ……………..The projections about future flooding are incredibly worrying. The report says with sea level rise of just 0.5 m – which we will likely see this century and maybe as soon as 2050 – what is currently considered a ‘one in 100 year flood event could happen several times a year “
Two relevant posts by JoNova relating to the recent flooding of the Brisbane River:
Also a WUWT post from 11 years ago about government incompetence in allowing housing developments on the Brisbane River flood plain: