The impact of climate variability on flood risk

Anthony S. Kiem*, Stewart W. Franks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The variability of flood risk across New South Wales, Australia, is analysed with respect to the observed modulation of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) impacts. This is achieved through the use of a simple index of regional flood risk. The results indicate that cold ENSO events (La Niña) are the dominant drivers of elevated flood risk. An analysis of multi-decadal modulation of flood risk is achieved using the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) index. The analysis reveals that IPO modulation of ENSO events leads to multi-decadal epochs of elevated flood risk. However, this modulation appears to affect not only the magnitude of individual ENSO events, but also the frequency of their occurrence. This dual modulation of ENSO processes has the effect of reducing and elevating flood risk on multi-decadal timescales. These results have marked implications for achieving robust flood frequency analyses as well as providing a strong example of the role of natural climate variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalIAHS-AISH Publication
Issue number281
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


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