Monday, January 03, 2011

Queensland floods

There is currently a large flood event happening in East-central Queensland, on both sides of the dividing range.

Figure 1. flood status of Queensland rivers. Source.

Inland, the northern tributaries of the Darling River. are flooding, while on the coast the Fitzroy River is due to peak in Wednesday. Like most floods, these were caused by large amounts of rain. In many areas, 100-year flood vends are expected or have occurred.

Figure 2. Rainfall totals for the week ending December 29. Source.

The city of Rockhampton (pop. 75,000) is currently isolated. Although the total area inundated may end up being similar to the Pakistan floods earlier this year, the population density in this part of Australia is much lower than in Pakistan. So the potential displacement will effect hundreds of thousands of people, not tens of millions. The economic effects could be severe, however.

The flooded area includes the coal-producing Bowen basin, its export ports, and associated rail transport links, all of which are currently interrupted. The Bowen Basin produced approximately half of the world’s supply of coking coal. This is coal used to reduced ferrous and base metals, in the reaction: 3C (coke) +Fe2O3 (ore) -> 3CO (gas) + 2Fe (metal) (substitute oxides of Zn, Cu, Pb, Ni, or other base or ferrous metals as appropriate). Coking coal is generally higher quality than coal burned for electricity production. Australia typically exports tens of billions of dollars worth of coal and billions of dollars of iron ore, mostly to Eastern Asia (China, Korea, Japan). So how this will effect heavy industry in the region has yet to be determined.

Additionally, the Fitroy River discharges into the Great Barrier Reef, a world-class marine park that is an important asset to the tourism industry. River runoff generally carries pollutants which are detrimental to healthy coral growth, and freshwater runoff may have been related to the 1998 coral bleaching crisis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Take a look at all the videos on here:

They show how REAL this is. Perhaps you could link to it to encourage people to donate?