Blog: Queensland floods

Posted by Ph.D candidate Niamh Cullen

In May (2015) the E&PSP Group along with the newly formed TCD Natural Hazards Group hosted guest speaker Professor Jacky Croke (University of Queensland). Professor Croke gave an engaging and insightful talk on the results of four years of research carried out by her and her team following the catastrophic floods which occurred in Australia in 2011.

Aerial view of flooded town of Theodore (Source ABC Australia)

Aerial view of flooded town of Theodore (Source ABC Australia)

Following a decade of severe drought during the 1990’s, January 2011 saw one of Australia’s  worst floods on record. Flood waters traveling at 1-2m per second overtopped the banks of the Lockyer River in South East Queensland, obliterating the town of Grantham and leaving a trail of destruction along its reach. The effects were devastating, causing significant loss of life, property and infrastructure. The economic cost  reaching billions of dollars.

One of the primary aims of flood risk management plans is to try to predict when and where these type of events will occur. However, standard engineering solutions (often employed by governments) appear to have been horribly and tragically inadequate.

One of the key messages from Prof. Croke’s talk was the need to incorporate geomorphological understanding into flood risk management more effectively.

Prof. Croke and her team have gone some way to bridging the gap often observed between the science community and policy makers by producing a series of snappy, single page documents, akin to an ‘elevator pitch’, which aim to communicate some of the key findings of the research project.

With the growing trend for government funding to be preferentially channeled towards economically driven research, it is now more important than ever for scientists to be able to communicate the importance of their research effectively, so that important research outcomes are recognised and incorporated into future policy and management decisions.

For copies of ‘pitch’ documents please email Ramonna Dalla Ponza Ramona.Dallpozza[at]dsiti.qld.gov.au

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