Thursday, January 13, 2011

Queensland Floods.

Because, apparently, Australia would be subject to increasing global warming drought, damming projects in Queensland were shelved and desalination plants built instead (now mothballed). This is a matter of record and a source of anger for many residents there. Also, it's not a great idea to build on flood plains. However, the usual suspects are claiming this one for ‘catastrophic climate change’ and, as is usual, their grasp of history is about as firm as chocolate pliers.

17th January: Highest flood on record, occurred at Brisbane and Ipswich.

10th January: Heavy floods at Ipswich.

17th December: Flood at Ipswich.

11th April: Heavy floods at Brisbane and Ipswich.

19th and 20th May: Great floods at Ipswich and Brisbane; river at Ipswich rose 45 feet, and at Brisbane 12 feet.

The above is just a small sample. If you go and check here at 'Queensland Flood History' you’ll discover enough to boggle the mind. This has fuck all to do with ‘catastrophic climate change’.


Shaun said...

But now they do have sharks on the high street. And not just the usual retailers, either.

Next up: fitting the frickin' laser beams!

j purdie said...

What the climate quote scientists unquote fail to realise is that we've always had freak weather, and no doubt always will. Them attributing it to Global Warming is no different to people attributing bad weather to Angry Gods.

A good source of previous weather reports is Blackwood's Magazine, (I'm sure there are others) available on Google Books. It had regular meteorological reports and temperatures, and looking around them it shows the freak weather being experienced now is no different to the weather being experienced hundreds of years ago.

Take 1818 for example, the report in Volume 3 of Blackwood's (page 123) goes thus: 'The month of March has been unusually stormy and inclement. It commenced with violent hurricanes of snow from the west, and for five days continued to present all the appearance of the most unsettled winter weather. ... It is worth of remark, that on the night between the 4th and 5th, the tide rose unusually high in the Tay; and what renders the circumstances more extraordinary, is its being the first only of the stream or spring tides. Both these phenomena correspond, in point of time, with the violent hurricane experienced at London, and in various places of the south of England.'

Jebel Krong said...

yeah it's funny how often these "freak" occurrences happen, especially when you build all your residential areas on floodplains (everywhere, not just OZ)...

Neal Asher said...

I don't know about sharks, Shaun, but I do wonder about crocodiles and suspect that some of the missing will remain missing.

That's why, J Purdie, I often check what history I can get hold of. The Cockermouth flood was just the same with a historical record of residents catching salmon in the high street.

And the above, Jebel, was before we started pasting concrete and tarmac over flood plains.

And here's an amusing one. Greenpeace neglectng to mention how the Israeli fires started:

alibaba said...

As an ex-Queenslander, I'm completely unsuprised by the floods - the whole SE corner of QLD is a gigantic flood plain.

There was a good reason for many of the early 20th century farm houses being built on 3m high stilts - the style is actually called the "Queenslander."

Thanks to Helen Webberly for the info!

Mother Nature can be particularly brutal when remind us monkeys who's boss.

Ben said...

Sorry Neal, I know how much you love to bash climate science, but I can't let this one go past.

1) The climate models predict Brisbane/southeast Queensland will have higher rainfall, more intense rain events and more days per year over 35 degrees C i.e. it'll become more tropical - no desert for us yet.

2)The Mary River Dam was opposed by all the locals, not just the "Greenies". The farmers didn't want it either. Also, it was for designed for irrigation, not flood mitigation. Besides, it would have been no help for us here in Brisbane anyway - different catchment.

3) The Tugan desalination plant is not mothballed - it's been cranked up to full capacity to help supply water for the clean up and to help provide water supplies to regions in the SE whose own water treatment plants are offline or contaminated.

4) This flood is unprecedented in Brisbane's history. There is double (that's right DOUBLE) the amount of water in the catchment that there was in the 1974 floods. The Wivenhoe Dam was built after the '74 floods to prevent such a disaster happening again. But it wasn't enough to prevent an event of this magnitude. It's been at over 200% capacity (designed to go to 225%) and has been releasing 500,000 megalitres (about 40,535 acre feet) a day to prevent it from over-topping (this would have been an even bigger disaster as its an earthen-wall dam). If not for Wivenhoe, the peak would have been over 10 meters (32 feet) instead of 4.5.

5) Al Gore is not a scientist. I highly doubt any scientist worthy of that epithet would be stupid enough to subscribe the cause of any single extreme weather event to global warming.

6) What caused this? Well we've just had the wettest December on record, plus the Southern Oscillation Index is at +27 (also the highest on record for December and the highest for any month since November 1973). In other words we're in the middle of a La Nina event, which mean higher than average rainfall. An extremely strong La Nina which means a LOT higher than average rainfall.

Global warming? With a data point of one, you can't say either way. If we start getting intense rain events or floods comparable to this every time a La Nina occurs (about every 5-7 years on average), then perhaps that explanation might have some legs.

So what gives me the right to be a smart-ass about this? I work in strategic water policy for the Queensland government.

Now if you'll excuse me gentlemen, the water seems to have retreated from the end of my street this morning and I'll be on my way to help remove the river scum from my friend's house in New Farm. (He's a weather forecaster for the BOM aka Met Office for you Englishmen... Well, I thought it was ironic.)



PS love your books, Neal. Write some more!

(disclaimer: my views are my own blah blah and do not represent the government's position etc etc)

Phil M said...

On our local news this morning a climate scientist from Edinbugh was interviewed and his comments were "We can't blame this, the floods in Australia and Brazil, on climate change, it's due to the La nina southern oscillation" of course he then spoilt it by saying "we can't tell how much climate change will affect these systems in the furture"

Neal Asher said...

1) So the response to higher rainfall and more intense rain events is to build desalination plants? I would have thought you should be digging reserviors.

2) I personally said nothing about greenies opposing dams etc. That was a link. There will always be NIMBYs opposing any pubilc infrastructure project. But let me note this:

"Were it not for the actions of Environment Minister Peter Garrett, for example, the Queensland town of Gympie would not now be underwater. Unfortunately, Garrett took it upon himself to block the proposed dam that would have prevented it."

3) I didn't know that - thanks for telling me.

4) Doesn't that rather reinforce the point about dams? This might be a rare event but is not unprecedented. I direct you back to my link to Queensland's flood history and to the graph you will find here:

Moreover, the overall quantity of rainfall is what is relevant to climate, not where it goes afterwards, which is more likely to do with land usage.

5) As for Al Gore, fine, he isn't a scientist (he's profiteer) but lots of people still listen to him. When I wrote 'the usual suspects' he was just the prime example. Try googling 'Queensland floods and global warming' and you'll see what I mean. Kevin 'hide the decline' Trenberth is another example.

6) Yes, a La Nina event, during a quiet sun and quite possible at the start of a Dalton Minimum, which means further events like this will not give catastrophic CO2caused global warming any legs at all.

I hope your books weren't under water!

Neal Asher said...

And here are some 'BOM' graphs of Brisbane flooding:

Sorry, Ben, I don't see any doubling here.

Jebel Krong said...

so it's a relatively normal 'la nina' event - much like we get the periodical 'el nino' ones? given the historical records in both hemispheres it's obvious that these events are hardly extraordinary. the only reliable indicators of actual climate change are tree growth rings and antarctic coring.

Jebel Krong said...

the real crime in all of this, of course is the needless waste of life/infrastructural damage because of short-sighted economics - building on floodplains because it's easier/cheaper and then not having sufficient protection - only covering the 'usual' or 'expected' climate patterns, rather than planning for the outliers. ..

my own mother lives in sussex, and that seems to spend quite a bit of time underwater for much the same reasons.

Neal Asher said...

And of course the story is complicated by frantic arse-covering:

Graeme said...

I remember my ex next door neighbour showing me photos of her house from when she was a kid with a muddy tide mark just over halfway up the first floor of her parents house in a place called innisfail in Queensland.

The house was on stilts about three feet off the ground to take account of the regular flooding and to allow the water to pass with a certain amount of easment, rather than knocking it down.

She showed us some pictures from another area where a hill took a turn steeper, where palm tree tops were strewn with material (sheets rope ect) and her mum and dad standing at the bottom pointing up for perspective, and the tops of the palms were twenty feet or more above their heads. They all had big smiles, and were chipper that they had at that time bourne witness to the gratest flood in their area in living memory.

I thought they were mad as badgers, but Marilyn was proud as punch of those pictures, and of living in an area, where big weather was the norm and us whinging poms didn't know what real rain was.

No point to make, just a memory.

Neal Asher said...

But it does make a point, Graeme; the 'it's happened before' point. Moreover, when was the last big flood, 1974 ... when we were apparently about to enter an Ice Age. Um. Come to think of it, ignore my earlier Dalton minimum comment!

bascule said...

It seems to have been a man made disaster after all. Where do you work Ben? Not in Dam management I hope. here