As I write, there are people just one street away filling skips with the sodden contents of their garages, basements and ground floor rooms. The footpaths are lined with piles of ruined household items, while residents and neighbours pitch in to rip up carpets and sweep out sections.

These scenes are repeated all over this sprawling city of 1.6 million, which received roughly the equivalent of a month’s rain in just a few hours on Friday evening. There are four confirmed deaths, houses have been destroyed, the airport closed and flights cancelled, and evacuation centres have been activated. A state of emergency is in place all week.

Auckland gets plenty of rain, but no one has seen anything like this. As climate scientist James Renwick explains, there were several factors involved in a massive “atmospheric river” stalling over the top half of the North Island, but those aren’t the full explanation. “I am confident climate change contributed significantly to the incredible volume of rain that fell so quickly in Auckland this time,” he writes.

And, as urban planning expert Timothy Welch argues, given what we know about the future impact of climate change, Auckland (like many cities) must address its ageing infrastructure and also change the way new construction is designed. The concept of the “sponge city”, he suggests, is a good place to start.

For now, that’s also an apt description of Auckland as the massive clean-up begins.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

The Auckland floods are a sign of things to come – the city needs stormwater systems fit for climate change

James Renwick, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

The more the climate warms, the heavier the storm rainfalls will become. The Auckland emergency shows how urgently adaptive measures are now needed.

Auckland floods: even stormwater reform won’t be enough – we need a ‘sponge city’ to avoid future disasters

Timothy Welch, University of Auckland

The more hard surfaces we build, the more stormwater we need to drain. Auckland must future-proof its urban design as climate change bites.

A message to anxious parents as 320,000 Australian children start school

Kate Highfield, Australian Catholic University

There is a lot of pressure on the transition to ‘big school’. For parents, this raises the question of how best we can prepare our kids and ourselves for this time.

As students return to school, small-group tutoring can help those who are falling behind

Julie Sonnemann, Grattan Institute

A new report from the Grattan Institute calls for tutoring at school, in school hours to be rolled out across Australia.

‘Nostalgic’ classics, or edgy contemporary texts? What books are kids reading in Australian schools – and does it matter?

Alex Bacalja, The University of Melbourne

Every year, parents have an opinion on the books on their kids’ reading lists – whether they think the books are stale, unchallenging or confronting. How are books and reading taught?

3 in 4 people experience abuse on dating apps. How do we balance prevention with policing?

Kath Albury, Swinburne University of Technology; Daniel Reeders, Australian National University

A recent government roundtable proposed stricter profile verification conditions as a response to safety concerns on dating apps. But research suggests users want something else.

Why has the West given billions in military aid to Ukraine, but virtually ignored Myanmar?

Nicholas Farrelly, University of Tasmania; Adam Simpson, University of South Australia

Myanmar’s two-year resistance to the brutal military regime barely registers in the West. But Ukraine shows that Western military force can be successfully used to support a democracy under siege.

Toxic pollutants can build up inside our homes. Here are 8 ways to reduce the risks

Mark Patrick Taylor, Macquarie University; Carlos Ibañez del Rivero, Macquarie University; Kara Fry, Macquarie University

Levels of trace metals inside can be higher than the sources of contamination outside. It underscores the need for households to take care to prevent those contaminants being brought indoors.

Nope, coffee won’t give you extra energy. It’ll just borrow a bit that you’ll pay for later

Emma Beckett, University of Newcastle

Feeling tired and groggy in the morning may well lead you to crave a coffee boost. But is it a gift or just a loan in terms of energy?

Tár isn’t just about gender, sexuality and power – it is also a story of class in the elite world of classical music

Peter Tregear, The University of Melbourne

The classical music industry has especially high numbers of people drawn from private wealth and educational privilege

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