Mar 23, 2021 - Science

Nearly a year's worth of rain fell in 6 days in parts of Australia

Residents of western Sydney navigate through floodwaters.

People are seen in a street affected by the flood on March 23 in Windsor, Australia. Photo: Flavio Brancaleone/Getty Images

Rainfall is easing in some parts of Australia Tuesday, but many rivers continue to rise in the wake of nearly a year's worth of rainfall that fell in just six days in New South Wales and Queensland.

Why it matters: The flooding is the latest in a string of extreme weather disasters that have struck Australia in the past year. The country has careened from drought and devastating wildfires to unusually heavy rains and flooding not seen in decades.

  • More heavy rain is still forecast on Tuesday for southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales, as well as the south coast of New South Wales, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
  • As a low-pressure area intensifies and moves south to the Tasman Sea, heavy rains are also expected in Tasmania, where up to 8 inches is forecast, along with strong winds.

The big picture: Australia is ground zero for emerging impacts of climate change, from heat waves and wildfires to flooding. Scientific studies have established clear ties between increasingly common and heavy rainfall events and a warming ocean and atmosphere.

  • As temperatures increase, the amount of moisture the air can hold also climbs.

What they're saying: "For many communities dealing with floods right now, this is the latest in a line of climate change-exacerbated extreme weather events they have faced, including drought, the Black Summer bushfires, and scorching heat waves," said Climate Council spokesperson and climate scientist Will Steffen.

The bottom line: Prime Minister Scott Morrison's administration has resisted citing climate change as one of the causes of this disaster.

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