Climatic Change

, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 21–35 | Cite as

Natural hazards in Australia: floods

  • Fiona JohnsonEmail author
  • Christopher J. White
  • Albert van Dijk
  • Marie Ekstrom
  • Jason P. Evans
  • Dörte Jakob
  • Anthony S. Kiem
  • Michael Leonard
  • Alexandra Rouillard
  • Seth Westra


Floods are caused by a number of interacting factors, making it remarkably difficult to explain changes in flood hazard. This paper reviews the current understanding of historical trends and variability in flood hazard across Australia. Links between flood and rainfall trends cannot be made due to the influence of climate processes over a number of spatial and temporal scales as well as landscape changes that affect the catchment response. There are also still considerable uncertainties in future rainfall projections, particularly for sub-daily extreme rainfall events. This is in addition to the inherent uncertainty in hydrological modelling such as antecedent conditions and feedback mechanisms.

Research questions are posed based on the current state of knowledge. These include a need for high-resolution climate modelling studies and efforts in compiling and analysing databases of sub-daily rainfall and flood records. Finally there is a need to develop modelling frameworks that can deal with the interaction between climate processes at different spatio-temporal scales, so that historical flood trends can be better explained and future flood behaviour understood.


Tropical Cyclone Regional Climate Model Extreme Rainfall Flood Hazard Southern Annular Mode 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper was a result of collaboration through the working group ‘Trends and Extremes’ as part of the Australian Water and Energy Exchanges Initiative (OzEWEX). J. Evans was supported by the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT110100576. A. Van Dijk was supported through Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (project number DP40103679). S. Westra and F. Johnson were supported through Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project DP150100411. The constructive comments from the anonymous reviewers helped to improve the clarity of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fiona Johnson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher J. White
    • 2
    • 3
  • Albert van Dijk
    • 4
  • Marie Ekstrom
    • 5
  • Jason P. Evans
    • 6
  • Dörte Jakob
    • 7
  • Anthony S. Kiem
    • 8
  • Michael Leonard
    • 9
  • Alexandra Rouillard
    • 10
    • 11
  • Seth Westra
    • 9
  1. 1.UNSW Water Research Centre, School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUNSWSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Engineering and ICTUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  3. 3.Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research CentreUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  4. 4.Fenner School of Environment & SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  5. 5.Land and Water, Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research OrganisationCanberraAustralia
  6. 6.Climate Change Research Centre & ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System ScienceUNSWSydneyAustralia
  7. 7.Environment and Research Division, Bureau of MeteorologyMelbourneAustralia
  8. 8.Centre for Water, Climate and Land Use (CWCL), Faculty of Science and ITUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  9. 9.School of Civil, Environmental and Mining EngineeringUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  10. 10.School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  11. 11.Centre for GeoGeneticsUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark

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