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Warning climate change could increase damaging cyclones

Warning climate change could increase damaging cyclones

Warning climate change could increase damaging cyclones

Updated 19 December 2011, 15:56 AEDT

A top Indian advocacy group that monitors climate change in South Asia has warned that the cyclone that devasted Burma's Irrawady delta over a week ago, could become more commonplace in future.

India's Centre for Science and Environment has warned that destructive cyclones are likely to occur more often, unless nations increased efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Penny Whetton, a climate change expert from Australia's peak scientific research body, the CSIRO, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program there are likely to be fiercer storms, rather than more storms.

"Our research is pointing towards tropical cyclones becoming more intense in the future," she said.

"We don't know that they're actually going to change in frequency, but when storms occur, they are likely to be more intense, and unfortunately that means we're likely to see more damage".

Ms Whetton says rising sea levels resulting from climate change can also contribute to the damage caused by cyclones, because it increases the likelihood and amount of flooding in low-lying areas.

"When a tropical cyclone is coming along, particularly in very low lying areas...probably the biggest risk is one of flooding by the sea," she said.

"Unless one actually builds coastal defences, which is really a long-term proposal, what we really need to have is good warning systems, and assistances that will enable people to move out of areas that are likely to be affected in time".