Our severe East Coast Lows – is climate change to blame?
Our remaining coastal habitats herein northern NSW have a subtropical climate with high biodiversity, they are rare and now under considerable stress due to anthropogenic factors, such as, urbanisation, residential development, agriculture and weeds. A new threat is climate change.
Modelling by the NSW and ACT governments and the University of NSW Climate Change Research Centre (December 2014) suggest that by 2070 average temperatures in the state will have risen by 2.1 degrees. Already changes are being felt, and sea levels are rising.
The East Coast Low last week caused widespread severe weather and deaths in the Hunter Valley. A new low this week has caused severe flooding in South east Queensland and more deaths. We are copping the tail end of it, 128mm in 24 hours on May 1, other places have had over 250mm.
Whether the frequency and intensity of East Coast Lows is due to a warming ocean is not yet clear (it is complicated. The Bureau of Meteorology recognises categories of low pressure systems).