Extreme Rainfall in Australia Forces Evacuations, Could Flood 20,000 Homes
A once-in-a-century flooding disaster in northeast Queensland, Australia forced authorities in the city of Townsville to fully open the floodgates of the Ross River dam on Sunday night, causing nearly 2,000 cubic meters (approximately 70,629 cubic feet) of water to pour out of the dam every second from 9 p.m., News.com.au reported.
"We've never seen anything like this before," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Today, according to News.com.au. "In Queensland, of course, we're used to seeing natural disasters, but Townsville has never seen the likes of this."
URGENT UPDT- RISK TO LIFE & PROPERTY IN TOWNSVILLE Ross River dam spillway gates have now fully opened. Dangerous &… https://t.co/BtWpkR24XL— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland)1549190771.0
Nearly 1,000 people in Townsville have sought refuge in relocation shelters, Australia's ABC News reported. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said Monday it had carried out 18 rescues from swift water and 1,100 relocations in the past 24 hours. So far, around 500 homes in Townsville have been flooded, News.com.au reported, but that number could increase.
"It could move up to the 10,000, 20,000 [mark]," district disaster coordinator Steve Munro said, according to News.com.au. "That's the worst case scenario we're looking at if things keep going pear-shaped. We don't want to get to that stage."
To download a high-resolution PDF of Townsville City Council's map of properties that could potentially be inundate… https://t.co/IusrnJfaaU— Queensland Police (@Queensland Police)1549182423.0
Townsville has received more than 20 times its average rainfall for late January / early February at around 3.3 feet in the past week. This breaks the record previously set by the Night of Noah flood in 1998, BBC News reported. Climate change is expected to increase extreme rainfall events across Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) State of the Climate 2018 found.
BOM meteorologists have said water spouts and tornadoes could form along parts of the Queensland coast, but the rain should move further south of Townsville, ABC News reported. However, another half-a-meter to meter (approximately 1.6 to 3.2 feet) of rain could fall in north and central Queensland in the next few days, according to News.com.au.
"We don't know when this event will end," Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said, according to News.com.au. "We cannot give you any certainty about what we are going to need to do into the future."
Rainfall ☔ figures overnight in the 24 hours to 9am tell a grim story with 300-400mm in the Ross River catchment an… https://t.co/MyqiFQ66iw— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland)1549239487.0
The onrush of rain and flood water has been a dramatic experience for residents.
"I've never seen anything like this," Townsville resident Chris Brookehouse told ABC, according to News.com.au. "The volume of water is just incredible. Downstairs is gone, the fridge and freezer are floating. Another five or six steps and upstairs is gone too."
Two policemen evacuating residents in a Townsville suburb were stranded themselves when the dam floodgates opened. Water swept their car away and they had to cling to trees for half an hour before being rescued themselves.
However, the rain hasn't been a disaster for all of Queensland. In the west, it has helped counteract a drought.
"It is a welcome relief, especially in our western communities, to not only get the rain but also to fill up their dams," Palaszczuk said Sunday, as News.com.au reported.
In #Australia where it's the middle of summer, temperatures for the month of January were the hottest on record. https://t.co/g7fG47r1rE— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1549113371.0
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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