An image taken by NASA of Cyclone Hamish off the coast of Queensland.
An image taken by NASA of Cyclone Hamish off the coast of Queensland. earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Expect more cyclones: scientists

SCIENTISTS watching the progress of Cyclone Hamish say that climate change will result in more intense and more frequent cyclones near Queensland's south-east.

Rising ocean temperatures, to match those now mainly in the tropics, would provide the catalyst for cyclones to form closer to vulnerable, low-lying and heavily populated south-east coastal communities.

In the process, what was once one-in-100-year events would become one-in-30 or one-in-10-year episodes, with capacity to wreak havoc through powerful winds, flooding or storm surge from the ocean.

Hamish, which diminished in intensity yesterday and headed further to sea, at its peak matched Larry, which smashed Innisfail, and Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans, for intensity.

University of the Sunshine Coast sustainability research centre's Professor Tim Smith said education and training were needed to prepare for extreme weather events.

Prof Smith was last week appointed to the steering committee of the Australian Coastal Alliance which will work with the National Seachange Taskforce to improve the interface between science and policy.

He said more intense cyclones could be expected further south in the future.

Prof Smith said it had become critical that coastal communities had an ability to respond.


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