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Temporally compounding heatwave–heavy rainfall events in Australia

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hayley Fowler



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The Authors. International Journal of Climatology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Meteorological Society.Natural hazards often occur in combination with other natural hazards rather than as isolated events. While some combinations of hazards are well studied and their physical connection is increasingly understood, other combinations have received considerably less attention. High temperatures are known to be an important component for conditions that lead to heavy rainfall; however, sequences of heatwaves followed by heavy rainfall are not well understood, especially in a compound event context. Here, we analyse heatwave–heavy rainfall events across Australia using rainfall observations at hourly resolution. Our results show that heavy rainfall is more likely to occur if preceded by a heatwave, demonstrating that heatwave–heavy rainfall sequences should be seen as temporally compounding events. In particular, many regions in Australia experience both more frequent and more extreme wet days immediately following a heatwave. This behaviour is strongest in coastal regions, especially on the Australian east coast. These findings highlight the need for heatwave–heavy rainfall sequences to be studied as compounding events, as future changes in either hazard is likely to have impacts on related risks such as flash flooding.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sauter C, White CJ, Fowler HJ, Westra S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Climatology

Year: 2022

Volume: 43

Issue: 2

Pages: 1050-1061

Print publication date: 01/02/2023

Online publication date: 18/09/2022

Acceptance date: 16/09/2022

Date deposited: 31/10/2022

ISSN (print): 0899-8418

ISSN (electronic): 1097-0088

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1002/joc.7872


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Funder referenceFunder name
NE/R01079X/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)