A new study in Nature has found the floods in Australia during 2010-2011 lowered global sea levels. That is a lot of rain. In Australia, many rivers don't reach the ocean but flow inland into large lakes such as Lake Eyre, so water is retained on the continent. Floods are common in Australia but they are expected to become more extreme because of the effects of climate change. However, the authors explain the flood water led to a surge in plant growth - removing huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the benefit is believed to be only temporary. The authors think the carbon will soon be returned to the atmosphere as new plant growth can intensify bushfires. Even still, the study raises some interesting questions. After all the debates and issues around how to reduce carbon in the atmosphere - geo-sequestration, 'clean' coal, carbon taxes etc - is anyone calling for the planting of more trees?

Australia might be the driest inhabited continent, but the whole country seems designed to store water. Not only do many rivers flow inland rather than out to sea, but the largest repository of water is underground - the Great Artesian Basin. All of this prevents water loss and evaporation, and has helped people live in Australia for thousands of years.

(Two of the authors of the Nature paper wrote a summary piece for The Conversation - see http://theconversation.com/record-rains-made-australia-a-giant-green-global-carbon-sink-26646 for more information)