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50-DEGREE CELSIUS DAYS NOT FAR OFF Featured
30 March 2019 Posted by 

50-DEGREE CELSIUS DAYS NOT FAR OFF

West more vulnerable to HEAT waves
RED DWYER
WESTERN Sydney is vulnerable to more record-breaking heatwaves and days of 50-degree temperatures Celsius are “not far off”.

That’s air temperature: Surface temperatures have reached 100 degrees in school playgrounds.
 
New residential development particularly in the north west and south west – two of the key growth areas in Sydney – where the push to bulldoze large swathes of green space and shady trees is most evident.
 
Replacing grass with heat-absorbing hard surfaces, such as, dark-coloured roads and roofs, which absorb, hold, and re-radiate heat, trigger temperature rises.
 
Traffic, industry, and heat generated by electricity usage are contributors.
 
Factor in the existing climate, geographic location and sustained population growth – the NSW government says an additional 184,500 homes will be needed in Western Parkland City, alone, by 2036 – and the outlook is dire.
 
“The  frequency  of  extreme  heat  days  is  on  an  upward  trend,”  Dr Tom Measham, a senior human geographer, with the CSIRO, said recently
 
“We are headed for a future that is definitely warming and we have to prepare for that,” said Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, a Western Sydney University senior research fellow.
 
“It is not far off that we’re going to see 50-degree Celsius days in Western Sydney.”
 
WSU’s Cool School study has registered surface temperatures of 100 degrees in playgrounds.
 
Analysis of temperature records over the last 40 years show that Western Sydney has seen a rise in annual temperatures above those experienced in coastal parts of Sydney, according to “Turn down the heat”, published by the Western Sydney Regional Organisations of Councils (WSROC).
 
“OEH (Office of Environment and Heritage) predicts the conversion of forests and grasslands … to new urban development may double the projected temperature increases from climate change in the near future,” the document said.
 
An OEH study warned that Western Sydney would face an additional 5-10 extremely hot days in the near future, rising to up to 20 additional hot days per year by 2070.
 
“The impacts of heat are expected to worsen over the next decade as Western Sydney develops and becomes more densely populated,” said WSROC president Cr Barry Calvert. 
 
On the economic front, the exact cost remains unknown, according to the document
 
“While intuitively, the economic burden of heatwaves is significant, the exact cost to our communities [and productivity] remains unknown and challenging to quantify … we need more research,” it said.
 
The document lays out a five-year framework to support a greener, cooler, more liveable and resilient future for Western Sydney.


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Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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