Australians most at risk from world's increasing extreme cyclones

·Environment Editor
·3-min read

Intense tropical cyclone risk will double by 2050 due to climate change, with Australia and the Pacific set to be one of the worst affected regions.

That’s the outcome predicted by research published on Thursday in the journal Science Advances, whose modelling also suggests a 20 per cent increase in maximum wind speeds.

Australians face the greatest exposure to a forecast increase in Category 3 tropical cyclones, which are ordinarily a-one-in-500-year event.

Australia topped the list of population exposure to Category 3 tropical cyclones. Source: Science Advances / Getty
Australia topped the list of population exposure to Category 3 tropical cyclones. Source: Science Advances / Getty

The relative change is expected to be 9375 per cent, well ahead of the second country on the list, Yemen, which will likely experience 2916 per cent impact.

Pacific island nations set to be impacted by cyclone severity increase

Pacific nations feature heavily among top 10 affected countries, with Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Tonga all on the list.

The report's authors warn these countries are “developing island states” and are “are typically characterised by high vulnerability to climate impacts, scarce financial resources, and small economies to scale to overcome such impact”.

The world is set to experience a doubling of severe tropical cyclones. Source: Getty (File)
The world is set to experience a doubling of severe tropical cyclones. Source: Getty (File)

This could be of concern to Australia whose record on climate inaction has been frequently raised by its tiny island neighbours.

Australia has a significant impact on global warming, with the nation estimated to be the world’s third largest fossil fuel exporter, behind Russia and Saudi Arabia.

While the Coalition has pledged to take steps to reduce its impact and reach net zero emissions by 2050, doubts have been raised by the Nationals’ Matt Canavan, and their candidate for the seat of Flynn who said the goal was “flexible”.

Cairns singled out by cyclone report author

The report’s authors note that tropical cyclones have cost the United States $670 billion in just the last decade, and are already responsible for the highest insurance losses of any natural disaster type.

Dr Bloemendaal is calling on regions to work towards mitigating cyclone impact to prevent
Dr Bloemendaal is calling on regions to work towards mitigating cyclone impact to prevent "damage and fatalities”. Source: Getty

The scientists used statistical modelling using data from 1980 to 2017 to understand the impact of a changing climate on the years 2015 to 2050.

Dr Nadia Bloemendaal from the University of Amsterdam said they relied upon publicly available data sets to accurately analyse cyclone risk for individual regions.

She now hopes governments will take heed of their warning and take mitigating steps to reduce the possibility of “damage and fatalities”.

One region singled out by Dr Bloemendaal was Cairns in Queensland’s tropical north.

She found the return of Category 5 tropical cyclones have a present return period of once every 2500 years, but this will increase in frequency to every 330 years in the near future.

Category 3 cyclone probability is predicted to more than double from once every 48 years, to 21 years in the near future.

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