Sea level rise in Broome? BoM’s feet stay dry so far

Flooding - Broome Airport (Photo: Tom Harley)

BOM Office at Broome Airport (Source: BOM)

Last week’s super moon brought very high tides to many parts of the world.  Broome in Western Australia was one of the towns that experienced flooding (h/t Tom ‘BT Harley’) .  The picture above (left) shows flooding at high tide near the airport. Apparently the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has had offices at the airport since the end of WWII.  The most recent move to new buildings at the Airport was completed in 2008.  Tom said:

“This link is to photos taken of this week’s apogee king tides in the area around the airport and shopping centre, showing the BOM new office building and radar tower just above the high tide of 10.6m. They are not obviously worried about sea levels rising, (they are no higher than several other times last century), as the buildings are less than 1 metre above this mark.”

Here’s a view of the Airport from Google Earth. The METAR/synop location is shown with a blue pin (location from here).  On zooming in I assume the BOM office is the building on the same plot (to the left of the pin on the image) and looks to be ~300m from the shoreline. Very flat part of the world, but great beach!

Broome Airport image from Google Earth. The pin shows the METAR/Synp location.

And the problem with this?  Well only the dire warnings of sea level rise in Australia from none other than the Australian Prime Minister.  Andrew Bolt today quotes Australian PM Julia Gillard’s ‘talking points’ document on Carbon Tax :

“Sea levels could rise by up to a metre and possibly even more by the end of the century,” the document says. “Up to 250,000 existing homes are at risk of inundation. ”

CSIRO and BOM’s own State of the Climate “Snapshot”, intended “to update Australians about how their climate has changed and what it means”, headlines the observed sea level rise as one of the concerns:

“Rapidly rising sea levels from 1993 to 2009, with levels around Australia rising, between 1.5 and 3mm per year in Australia’s south and east and between 7 and 10mm in the country’s north”

Strewth – that’d be 110-160mm in just 16 years! So since 1960, assuming a lesser rate of 1.5mm/yr, perhaps 16-20cm. You’d think they might notice that extra sea level rise in Broome at such extreme high tides.

Photos, however, seem to tell a different story. Flooding at ‘Spring’ tides happens a couple of times a year.

A photo taken looking toward Chinatown in the 1960s (Source: Tom Harley)

Photo of the same area 2011 (Photo: Tom Harley). Note the same building in the centre.

Flooding near the shopping centre March 2011 (Photo: Tom Harley)

Downtown flooding, date unknown (source: http://www.broomecam.com)

The insurance industry must just love the government right now.  They’re undoubtedly making a quid or two from this croc.  However, the BOM office in Broome is obviously not too worried (no sign of stilts on that new building).  Perhaps they’re waiting to say “Told you so…!” After all the PM will make sure the taxpayers stump up for new kit for BOM if they are flooded. Or maybe they’re just planning to play Canute.

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8 Responses to Sea level rise in Broome? BoM’s feet stay dry so far

  1. BT Harley says:

    Great article, Verity, the BoM site has moved closer to the tidal flats seen in the bottom right of the Broome airport Google pic. This is just a bit lower in height than the older site. It was moved about 1 mile to this site in the ’40s from the Old Broome area to the left of the airport pic.
    The flooding in front of the building in the bottom photo is the oldest outdoor picture gardens in the world, Sun Pictures, built in 1916, and still operates today.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Glad I was able to do it justice. It was actually pretty interesting researching it. I have, for example, seen a documentary on Cable Beach (the cable…) in the past but didn’t recollect the location.

      I’ve tended to steer away from doing any climate stuff on Australia, mostly because it has been well covered by other blogs (Ken’s Kingdom, Warwick Hughes and Jo Nova for example).

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