Sydney's urban areas to be hit hardest by global warming

Jul 08, 2013
Sydney's urban areas to be hit hardest by global warming
Sunset over Sydney by Tim Rim from stock xchng

Green spaces, trees and bodies of water are must-have design features for future development in Sydney's suburbs after researchers found that by 2050 global warming combined with Sydney's urban heat island effect could increase temperatures by up to 3.7°C.

The researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science found new urban developments, such as the multitude of new estates on Sydney edges expected to house more than 100,000 residents, were prone to the greatest temperature increases.

"Interestingly, we found that overnight temperatures increased far more than temperatures during the day," said lead author from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science Dr Daniel Argueso.

"This has implications for health problems related to heat stress accumulation and at an economic level where the higher needed to power air conditioning overnight may lead to higher power bills."

The urban occurs because urban structures can store more heat than open ground. This accumulated heat is released during the night, which is why nighttime temperatures increase even more than .

At the same time urban surfaces hinder evaporation and its cooling effect, adding another layer to the heating of urban areas.

New areas on the fringes of Sydney could see temperatures rise between 1.1-3.7°C, while the rural areas near these new suburbs could see increases of 0.8-2.6°C. Existing urban areas closer to the CBD will see likely rises of 1.1-2.5°C.

Changes to planning guidelines could ease the heat impact, said Dr Paul Osmond from the University of New South Wales Built Environment.

"Current research shows that along with other strategies green spaces, street trees and bodies of water can have a marked effect on reducing urban heat island effect," said Dr Osmond.

"Not only do these help keep suburbs cooler, there is also a knock-on effect where these places gain social advantages through additional amenities and recreational areas. Quite often, leafy suburbs that contain a number of parks and bodies of water also tend to see increased real estate values. It's a win-win situation for everyone."

While the regions most affected by this increase in temperature will be new developments on the periphery of Sydney's urban area, it doesn't mean areas closer to the CBD won't see increases in the impacts.

Previous studies have shown that density, in particular vertical expansion, plays an important role in the effect. As global warming develops, urban designers will also have to consider ways to ease this likely heat increase.

Importantly, while this research was focused on Sydney it has lessons for cities right across Australia. The mechanisms that cause warmer nights in Sydney are applicable to any city with similar characteristics and can be solved in similar ways.

However, Australia's regional climatic variability means scientists will need to extend their research to other cities to better understand their climatic characteristics and get a more comprehensive understanding of urban impacts on local temperature.

"We need to develop a complete profile of temperature changes for different cities taking into account their various urban expansion prospects and locations," Dr Argueso said.

"With this information, we can provide an invaluable tool to help with the future development of Australian cities and the environment many of us live in."

Explore further: 'Cool islands' could be solution to urban heat islands, say researchers

More information: Temperature response to future urbanization and climate change, DOI:10.1007/s00382-013-1789-6

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User comments : 9

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1.2 / 5 (20) Jul 08, 2013
fkn greenie BS
4.4 / 5 (14) Jul 08, 2013
Wow, 3.7C increase in temp. That has got to put a size able load on the electric utilities to provide for all of the air conditioners that will be running.
Unlike the previous low grade wiener tard above, I am not dismissive of 3.7C change in average temperatures in urban areas. It would make life unbearable for middle and lower class working families.
4.3 / 5 (12) Jul 08, 2013
Clearly research is turning more towards finding the means to live with the new reality of a warming climate. It is unfortunate indeed that the cautions of scientists were ignored as a result of politics and greed. Our children and our children's children are going to be paying a heavy price due to the actions of a handful of politically motivated, organized and well funded denialists.

It is an unfortunate truth that it is far easier to sow doubt than articulate a complicated truth.
3.9 / 5 (14) Jul 09, 2013
fkn greenie BS

Eerily similar to an antigoracle post...
1.3 / 5 (12) Jul 09, 2013
fkn greenie BS

Eerily similar to an antigoracle post...

Precisely the post of a mentally deficient AGW Alarmist.
3.6 / 5 (12) Jul 09, 2013
fkn greenie BS

You lack the humour to be entertaining, the knowledge to be informative, and have all the charm and attraction of a deceased rat which suffered from leprosy and incontinence.
3.7 / 5 (13) Jul 09, 2013
fkn greenie BS

Eerily similar to an antigoracle post...

Precisely the post of a mentally deficient AGW Alarmist.

Spoken like a true VENDItardE.
3.3 / 5 (7) Jul 13, 2013
fkn greenie BS

Eerily similar to an antigoracle post...

Precisely the post of a mentally deficient AGW Alarmist.

Spoken like a true VENDItardE.

That would be a true mentally deficient VENDItardE, or is that by now redundant?
3.7 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2013
It is no coincidence that the enemies of mankind are the same conservatives who are the enemies of science.

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