IAG and the US-based National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have released the second edition of the Severe Weather in a Changing Climate report.
The updated report incorporates new research and feedback from the scientific community and reinforces that extreme bushfires, tropical cyclones, storms, hail and floods are becoming more frequent and intense in a warmer world – and the increase in global temperatures to date is already influencing these events and impacting communities now.
Climate change will result in more frequent and intense extreme weather events across Australia, resulting in greater property, personal and economic damage, and hardship for Australian communities.
- Bushfires: Bushfire weather risk, including most catastrophic types of bushfires, will increase across almost all locations nationally, although there will continue to be large variability in the level of risk each year. Australia will experience longer fire seasons and more extreme bushfires. Critically, this will reduce the amount of time able to be spent on mitigation and fuel management activities including hazard burns.
- Tropical cyclones: Australia will experience fewer cyclones overall, but those that do hit the country will move further inland and be more devastating and destructive to communities – including an increase in extreme category 4 and 5 tropical cyclones, such as Cyclones Yasi, Debbie, Marcia and Damien. Cyclones will also move south towards regions that typically haven’t experienced these types of events – particularly parts of south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales.
- Hail: Hailstorms with large (2cm-4.9cm in diameter) to giant (5cm> in diameter) hail, have already increased in frequency over south-east Australia. In a warmer climate, the areas most at risk of these hailstorms will be further south including Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne. In particular, the inland region from the Hunter River, down through the central and southern New South Wales highlands, and into central and eastern Victoria, will also be exposed to higher risk.
- Storms and flood: Intense bursts of rainfall are expected to increase across the country, resulting in more frequent and severe flash floods. The east coast of Australia will be particularly vulnerable to flash flooding and fast response river flooding due to this expected increase in intense rainfall coupled with increased impacts from east coast lows and the southward expansion of the areas at risk of tropical cyclones.
Australia has experienced many extreme events in the past 12 months, including devastating bushfires, floods, east coast lows and hailstorms, all compounded by a global pandemic.
According to the Insurance Council of Australia, insurers have already paid more than $3.85 billion in claims to date for four of these major weather events alone, including the summer bushfires, the South East Queensland hailstorms in November, hailstorms across NSW, ACT and VIC in January, and storms across the east coast in February.
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The content of this market update is from IAG’s announcement on 9 September 2020. Access the full report and a fact sheet summarising the report findings here.