Extreme weather events


Memories of extreme weather events such as flooding and storms are still fresh for many of us. 

Understanding the link between climate change and extreme weather is key to building resilience in the face of emergency. In the Impacts on Community Health, we explored how poorly planned development can lead to flooding, but that doesn’t explain the weather. Broadly, climate change will cause warmer, drier weather for Victoria, but that also means when it does rain, it pours. This is because warmer weather increases evaporation, and warmer air holds more moisture, resulting in more intense storms (IPCC, 2022). These weather events not only impact community health but cause damage and disruption to vital infrastructure. In fact, flooding is the most costly natural disaster in Australia, costing us around $8.8 billion per year (Deloitte, 2017).

Though they may not impact us directly, bushfires still pose a risk to our community. As we experience more frequent droughts, we see an increase in the number of extreme fire weather days (Abram et al., 2021). The result is longer, more intense bushfire seasons; though we may not yet fully comprehend to what extent. Existing models cannot simulate the 2019/20 summer fires, and may struggle to prepare us for fires going forward. Because fires are occurring more frequently and hotter than ever, ecosystems don’t have enough time to recover. This isn’t just bad news for wildlife. The forests affected by bushfires store carbon in plants and soil, and if they burn too frequently, the soils become “baked” and unable to sustain life. This means they may never recover, leading to massive increases in carbon emissions. Current studies suggest we are facing a “trajectory of inexorable carbon loss” (Bowman et al., 2020).

Extreme weather events such as heatwaves, fires and floods are occurring more frequently because of the impacts of climate change. These events may be more severe than previous emergencies. This means we must stay aware of the most recent advice from emergency services to stay safe. We must take an active role in ensuring our families’ safety during extreme weather events. By preparing early and acting on the day, we become active collaborators with emergency services and protect our communities.

Climate Learning Resources 

Check out these resources to keep your family and furry friends safe during extreme weather.


Abram N J, Henley B J, Gupta A S, Lippmann T J R, Clarke H, Dowdy A J, Sharples J J, Nolan R H, Zhang T, Wooster M J, Wurtzel J B, Meissner K J, Pitman A J, Ukkola A M, Murphy B P, Tapper N J & Boer M M (2021) ‘Connections of climate change and variability to large abd extreme forest fires in southeast Australia’, Communications Earth and Environment, 2(8). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-020-00065-8

Bowman D M J S, Williamson G J, Gibson R K, Bradstock R A, & Keenan R J (2020) ‘Australian forests, megafires and the risk of dwindling carbon stocks’, Plant, Cell and Environment 44:347-355.

Deloitte (2017) ‘Building resilience to natural disasters in our states and
territories’ Deloitte Access Economics, Sydney, Australia, 120. https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/building-australias-natural-disaster-resilience.html 

Lawrence J B, Mackey F, Chiew M J, Costello K, Hennessy N, Lansbury U B Nidumolu G, Pecl L, Rickards N, Tapper, Woodward A and Wreford A (2022) ‘Australasia in Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’
Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
[H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1581–1688, doi:10.1017/9781009325844.013