Queensland and Western Australia can expect fewer, but more intense, cyclones in the near future, according to a recent study published by Nature.
Research out of James Cook University in Cairns shows tropical cyclone activity has reached an unprecedented low not seen in the past 550 to 1500 years.
But the findings backup earlier studies that predict climate change will also result in stronger cyclones.
Environmental Sciences Professor and co-author of the study Jon Nott says the findings indicate that the last 40 to 100 years of cyclone activity in northern Australia represented a comparatively quiet period in the longer-term history of cyclones in the region.
Buildings and infrastructure on low-lying coastal land in northern Queensland face a higher storm-surge risk than our planners and development authorities have allowed for.
“These results confirm that Queensland’s coastal development guidelines are based on an unrepresentative period,” Professor Nott says.
“Buildings and infrastructure on low-lying coastal land in northern Queensland face a higher storm-surge risk than our planners and development authorities have allowed for.”
Professor Nott encouraged the Queensland Government and infrastructure developers to consider the new data before approving more coastal development without adequate safeguards.
“Certainly those proposing to build a $4.2 billion resort casino on very low-lying coastal land on the north side of Cairns would do well to consider a future in which our cyclones are more likely to be category four and five.”
The study comes as Queensland dodged its third cyclone scare for the year after former-cyclone Fletcher was downgraded to a tropical low.
North Queensland Insurance Brokers (NQIB) reports they have received “no serious claims” despite two weeks of storm activity.
“There were a few tree branches that came down on houses and fences in Townsville and Bowen but that was about it,” NQIB Manager Ray Pavey says.
But North Queenslanders haven’t forgotten the devastating impact severe tropical storms can have.
Three years on from category five Cyclone Yasi, the region is still recovering from the $3.6 billion disaster (Australia’s most costly cyclone to date).