Extreme heat a threat to western Sydney
Australian Associated Press
Extreme heat could pose a serious threat to the well-being of people living in western Sydney, according to a new analysis which projects the number of days over 35 degrees in the region will increase fivefold.
The Australian Institute's Western Sydney HeatWatch report, published on Tuesday, predicts extreme heat days over 35 degrees could increase from the historical average of 10.6 days per year to up to 52 days a year by 2090 if emissions are not reduced.
The report, which uses CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology modelling, says the region already experiences temperatures six to 10 degrees higher in extreme heatwaves than Sydney's east as a result of its geography and urban environment.
"People living and working in western Sydney will endure many more hot days than people in other parts of the state will endure – and western Sydney will become an increasingly undesirable place to live relative to cooler parts of NSW," the report says.
The area has already seen extreme heat days increase from 9.5 days in the 1970s to 15.4 days in the past decade.
That could more than triple by 2090.
Based on data projections, east suburban Coogee would record up to 22 days over 35 degrees, while Parramatta would endure up to 43.5 days of extreme heat per year.
Penrith would record as many as 58.7 days, Bankstown as many as 36.8 and Richmond nearly 67.
Days over 40 degrees are also projected to increase from the historical average of one day per year to up to 12.
Richie Merzian, the Australian Institute's climate and energy program director, said the region's heat problem will be exacerbated as global warming drives up the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events.
"This is a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of residents in western Sydney," he said in a statement.
The projections could also have implications for infrastructure as extreme heat damages roads and buckles rail lines; and for the state's coal power plants which can break down in heatwaves, Mr Merzian said.
However the report found if emissions are reduced to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the number of 35-degree days could be limited to an average of 19.1 days per year.
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