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DARWIN - Regional towns in Australia's Northern Territory are under threat, as rivers and dams reach capacity in the wake of Cyclone Carlos.

After causing extensive damage to roads and homes across the region, Darwin residents breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when the category 1 storm weakened to a tropical low and moved south west.

Council staff worked to clear roads and footpaths of fallen trees and debris.

But as the Territory's capital began the recovery and clean-up, Darwin River Dam reached peak capacity.

The NT Emergency Service said excess water was now going over the spillway, inundating a few homes in low-lying areas.

"This evening's high tide will increase the potential for residences in these areas to suffer flooding or inundation," a NTES spokeswoman said.

Residents are not being forced to evacuate, but they have been advised to decide now about moving if they have concerns for their safety.

The Adelaide River, about 120km south of Darwin, had risen almost 4m in just a few hours to 11.2m.

NTES crews have flown out to Darwin River Dam, Adelaide River and the Daly River to assess the potential threat of flood and assist residents.

More than 600mm of rain fell across the Top End in two and a half days, as winds of up to 100km/h brought down powerlines and trees.

Meanwhile a study has suggested the catastrophic floods of the northern autumn 2000, which saw river levels reach 400-year highs and left 10,000 homes underwater across England and Wales, were most likely the result of global warming.

It is the first time scientists have been able to plot with any confidence the link between the extreme weather with man-made greenhouse gases.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Met Office, aided by thousands of volunteers online, believe 20th-century industrial emissions made the natural disaster almost twice as likely.

While environmentalists have long pointed to the floods as early evidence of the impact man is having, concrete proof has been harder to find.

But Dr Pardeep Pall, who began the research while a doctoral student at Oxford University's Department of Physics, said this has changed.

"This study is the first of its kind to model explicitly how such rising greenhouse gas concentrations increase the odds of a particular type of flood event in the UK, and is the first to use publicly volunteered computer time to do so," he said.

The research, published in Nature, reveals there was a two-in-three chance that the odds of flooding that year were increased by global warming by a factor of two or more.

Researchers used a Met Office computer climate model to simulate the weather of autumn 2000 as it was and how it might have been without the presence of man-made CO2.

Volunteers around the world then repeated the experiment thousands of times by logging on to the website ClimatePrediction.net. The data was then fed into a flood model by Risk Management Solutions, which develops risk models for the insurance industry.

It was concluded that the chances of floods occurring had increased by more than 20 per cent; and perhaps as much as 90 per cent.

- Independent, AAP