Heat

Cause

Extra greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are causing the Earth to heat up (global warming). Gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane are increasingly trapping the Sun’s heat in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Projections

  • We are getting hotter extreme heat days and a rise in the frequency of hot days
  • By 2030, it is predicted (using RCP8.5 modelling) that the annual average warming will be between 0.5 and 1.4°C above the climate of 1986–2005 
  • Under a high emissions scenario, Queensland can expect to see an average annual temperature increase of around 3.9°C by 2070.
  • Proserpine recorded its first day over 42 degrees in 1995 and has hit that record another three times since then! 
  • The Proserpine Heat Study found that 3pm on an average hot day in Proserpine will be approximately:
    • 1.5 degrees hotter by 2050 
    • Around three degrees hotter by 2090 
  • Proserpine’s number of consecutive days over 35 degrees is increasing:
  • Queensland can expect longer fire seasons, with around 40% more high fire danger days

Consequences

  • Species and ecosystem shifts
  • Increase in coral bleaching 
  • Excess temperatures also impact the health of flora and fauna and will eventually drive changes in the composition of biodiversity 
  • Human health impacts including more heat related deaths - extreme heat is known to be the leading cause of death from climate related events in Australia 
  • The most vulnerable in our community (like the elderly or sick) are likely to be most affected by increasing heat and the associated costs of managing heat
  • We will begin to design our housing and cool our houses differently to cope with rising temperatures, this has implications on electricity supply and demand 
  • Heat will need to be managed to maintain an active population and ensure economic activity is maintained
  • Extreme heat paired with an increased frequency and duration of heat waves, makes heat one of the priority hazards for management in regional towns to ensure future liveability.

What the Climate Hub is doing

The Proserpine Heat Reduction Feasibility Study assessed cost effective ways to reduce heat-stress in our towns such as planting more trees strategically in positions to provide the most shade, using irrigation as a heat management tool, changing the colour of hard surfaces and including water features or green walls. Read more on the Proserpine Heat Study Project Page. 

What you can do to manage heat in and around your home

  • Paint your roof white: A trial undertaken in Townsville between 2011-2013 found that following the application of a white roof, residents experienced noticeable reductions in temperature in their homes, with the maximum roof cavity temperature reducing by between 9.5 and 17˚C and the maximum internal temperature reducing by 1.2 to 2.5%  
  • Increase shade:  
    • Plant trees around your home to increase shade, especially on the north and western sides that get the afternoon sun. Aim for native, drought tolerant trees that have a canopy 
    • Shut and cover your windows on hot days, especially the ones that get the afternoon sun! If you can’t fit curtains or blinds, could a window tint cool you down?
  • Insulate: Insulation is a layer of material in your walls, ceiling, floor and roof that moderates the temperature inside your home. It makes it easier to keep your house cool in summer and warm in winter. Most heat transfer happens through the roof and ceiling. If your ceiling or roof has no insulation, you can lose around 40% of your cooling and heating energy! Ceiling insulation can be installed after the building is complete. 
  • Section off your house: If you have rooms that you don’t use, block them off so that the cool air stays where you need it.  
  • Increase airflow: Open windows at night, open any air vents, use an energy efficient fan to move the hot air out! 

Who else is working on heat mitigation?

The Darwin Living Lab is a 10-year collaboration between CSIRO, the Australian and Territory Governments and City of Darwin. The lab will test and evaluate heat mitigation measures, and inform tropical urban design for Darwin by using real-world experiments. This research will then be translated into products and services for other tropical cities (like ours) around Australia and internationally.

Adelaide has been trialling ‘cool roads’. Lighter surfaces reflect heat creating cooler air temperature. In high pedestrian areas, this should always be done in conjunction with increasing shade cover to reduce the impact of increased glare.