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Australia will be increasingly battered by severe storms, with Sydney to be hardest hit, a new report has found.

The Climate Council says the frequency of severe thunderstorm days will increase by 30 per cent in Sydney, 22 per cent in Melbourne and 14 per cent in Brisbane by 2100, because of climate change.

The council says extreme rainfall events, east coast lows and tropical cyclones are also expected to become more intense with severe implications for Australia’s electricity infrastructure.

“Climate change is already exacerbating storms and storm damage,” climate scientist Will Steffen said.

“Our infrastructure is built for last century, not for a changing climate and a number of our major cities and towns are vulnerable.”

The report comes after a severe storm in September caused a statewide blackout in South Australia when more than 20 electrical towers were damaged, bringing down major transmission towers.

Andrew Stock, who has worked in the energy sector for 40 years, said the impact of the storms in SA was unprecedented and pointed to changes that needed to be made.

“The resilience of all our major infrastructure and essential services needs to be designed for the increasing intensity and severity of extreme weather which we are experiencing as a result of climate change,” he said.

“More renewable energy from a diverse range of sources, increased interconnection and fast response energy storage will ensure a grid that is not only more resilient to extreme weather but also meets our climate change commitments.”

The Climate Council report said climate change would also exacerbate coastal flooding from storm surges, through both intensified weather events and rising sea levels which could increase by up to one metre by the end of the century.

It said a sea level rise of just half a metre would mean a one-in-100 year flood could occur every few months.

Tropical cyclones, extreme rainfall events and severe thunderstorms were also more likely with the atmosphere carrying more energy and moisture than it was in the 1950s.

 
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