Recent East Coast Lows

Information on past ECLs and the severe wind, wave and rainfall events they produce along the eastern seaboard of Australia was largely unavailable to people outside of the research sector. As part of the ESCCI-ECL program a hazard tool was developed to improve access to this information.

Eastern Seaboard Climate Hazard Tool development

The Maps and Tables of Climate Hazards on the Eastern Seaboard (MATCHES) tool was developed as part of the ESCCI-ECL program.

MATCHES links historical ECL events with information on their impacts, including the location and intensity of heavy rainfall, severe winds, extreme waves and storm surges. This was achieved by building on, and integrating with, existing datasets and through consultation with intended major users of the tool, including emergency managers, water managers, researchers and the insurance sector.

MATCHES is accessible publicly through the Bureau of Meteorology’s website.

The MATCHES interactive tool is a world-first in providing both the location and development of individual weather systems and any associated extreme rain wind and wave weather. It includes an automated tracking feature that captures and maps ECL tracks for further analysis, helping us to better understand ECLs, how they form, and where their impacts are greatest. MATCHES currently includes information on ECLs for the 1950 to 2008 period.

We can learn important lessons about current ECL behaviour and risks by studying past ECLs. Studies investigating past ECLs have shown the importance of ECL types and storm clustering, and the potential for predicting ECL events based on an understanding of regional climate drivers.

ESCII Publications

Pepler, A.S. and Coutts-Smith, A. (2013). A new, objective, database of East Coast Lows. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal, 63, 461-472

Pepler, A., Coutts-Smith, A., and Timbal, B. (2014). The role of East Coast Lows on rainfall patterns and inter-annual variability across the East Coast of Australia. Int. J. Climatol., 34: 1011–1021. doi: 10.1002/joc.3741

Pepler, A.S., Di Luca, A., Ji, F., Alexander, L., Evans, J. and Sherwood, S. 2014. Impact of identification method on the observed characteristics and variability of Australian East Coast Lows. Monthly Weather Review, 143, 864-877.

Pepler, A.S. Imielska, A., Coutts-Smith A., Gamble, G. and Schweitzer M. (2015). MATCHES: Matching East Coast Lows with climate hazards on the Eastern Seaboard, submitted to Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal

Coutts-Smith A., Gamble F., Rakich C. and Schweitzer M. (2012). Linking hazardous climatic systems and their impacts – MATCHES, details the development and use of the Climate Hazard Tool, paper presented at the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) National Conference at UNSW in January 2012.

Coutts-Smith A., Gamble F., Rakich C. and Schweitzer M. (2013). Eastern Seaboard Climate Hazard Tool – MATCHES, paper presented to the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility 2013 Conference.

Pepler, A.C. and Coutts-Smith A. (2013). An objective database of East Coast Low events: Development and verification, paper presented at the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) National Conference 2013, MCEC, Melbourne, 11-13 February 2013.