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Featured News JCU presentation on December flood in Cairns

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Tue, 7 May 2024

JCU presentation on December flood in Cairns

Image: Kelly Sikkema

James Cook University staff will host a presentation and Q&A session tonight, explaining Cairns’ devastating December flood and the outlook for the future.

Jonathan Nott, Professor of Geoscience at JCU, said it was Cairns’ biggest flood in 110 years.

“The last time the floodplain was covered with water like that was in 1977, and it wasn’t as high as we had last year,” said Professor Nott.

But he said last December’s flood is not overly big in terms of what Cairns could get.

“Geological evidence points to at least one flood at an unknown time in the past that was at least double the size of what happened in December 2023.

"They can occur, they have occurred and presumably they will again," said Professor Nott.

He said scientists know the world is warming.

“We know there's more moisture in the atmosphere, we know that rainfall events are becoming more intense, floods are becoming larger. Cyclones are going to become more intense. We know these things are happening, so we need to plan properly for them,” said Professor Nott.

He said councils and governments may find future natural disasters more expensive if they did not become more restrictive about development in natural disaster-prone areas.

“We do need a better planning scheme. We need a different economic approach and political approach to try and solve this, because it's not going to get any better,” said Professor Nott.

Professor Nott, along with Professor Bob Wasson, Dr Han She Lim and engineer Iain Brown will host the December 2023 Barron River flood – overview, historical context and the future presentation at 6pm on Tuesday May 7th in Crowther Lecture Theatre 1, building A3 on JCU’s Smithfield campus, (map here). Followed by a Q&A session.


Professor Jonathan Nott