The key themes that emerged from the research show that the risks associated with climate-related disasters include elements of: the nature of extreme weather events; the exposure of communities and settlements; sensitivity; and, capacity building and resilience. We discuss the biophysical and socioeconomic vulnerabilities under each of these themes below.
The Nature of Extreme Weather Events
Extreme weather events are having an increasing impact on coastal populations (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters 2012). Most of our interviewees, while acknowledging the vulnerability of inland areas, thought that coastal settlements were more vulnerable due to the nature of additional extreme weather events such as coastal erosion, storm surges, and cyclones. Respondent 17 also discussed the difference in the nature of flooding within the cities: “the exposure of a flood height can be greater in hinterland catchments which means that the roads can be flooded more regularly whereas in coastal catchments the extent of flooding can be more significant”. Flash flooding is a major risk factor for the Gold and the Sunshine Coasts, however, as Respondent 33 stated: “we don’t, here in Queensland, understand flash flood risk very well. I don’t think people consider that with where they settle, it is an affordability issue and a lifestyle issue”. In short, the nature of extreme weather events means that coastal communities are exposed to additional kinds of risk that are less well understood.