Climate change will affect tropical cyclone behaviour in two ways. Firstly, the formation of tropical cyclones occurs when there are warm conditions at the ocean surface and when the vertical temperature gradient through the atmosphere is strong - as the climate continues to warm the difference in temperature is likely to decrease leading to fewer tropical cyclones. Secondly, the increasing temperature of the ocean’s surface affects the intensity of cyclones so as the sea continues to warm we can expect more intense, damaging cyclones to occur. 


  • Tropical cyclones are estimated to become less frequent by 2100
  • The number of tropical cyclones is projected to decrease by about 8% in Queensland by 2090  
  • Tropical cyclones and extreme weather events, whilst decreasing, are expected to become more intense


  • Increased flooding and landslides due to intense rainfall
  • Property and contents damage to houses
  • Infrastructure and building damage
  • Destruction of popular tourist sites (such as the reef)
  • Higher incidence of injury and death from intense events
  • Damage to ecosystems - as much as 34% of the coral mortality recorded between 1995 and 2009 in the Great Barrier Reef was due to severe storms

What the Climate Hub is doing

The Climate Hub is pleased to have secured Monsoon Trough Funding to complete the Enabling Mitigation to Reduce Loss from Disasters and Quicken Community Project. The project will be completed in partnership with James Cook Universities Cyclone Testing Station and the Health and Behaviour Change in the Tropics Department.  

The research project will look to determine the most appropriate actions to take in the days before a tropical cyclone is expected to hit. Research will be presented with a cost benefit analysis clearly identifying the savings expected and optimal times to complete preparatory activity. Research will identify, inform and benefit the preparatory actions undertaken by the Whitsunday community, Council, and any coastal Councils or organisations subject to cyclonic activity. Results will be communicated to the insurance sector. Read more on the project page

For additional research on disaster preparedness, check out the latest PHD brief about using artificial intelligence to assist in creating tailored communications and products for disaster preparedness

What you can do

Register your interest in participating in this research project by visiting Your Say Whitsunday and filling out a short form.

Prepare your property and business for storm season by visiting the Whitsunday Regional Council’s Disaster Prevention & Preparedness page.