Sydney’s Urban Areas To Be Hit Hard By Global Warming
Temperatures in urban areas of Sydney could rise by up to 3.7°C within the next 40 years because of global warming, according to a new study.
Asian Scientist (Jul. 10, 2013) – 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.
In their study, published in Climate Dynamics, the researchers found that new urban developments, such as the many new estates situated on the fringes of Sydney, were prone to the greatest temperature increases. These new estates are expected to house more than 100,000 residents.
The researchers estimate that 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 central business district will likely see rises of 1.1-2.5°C.
“Interestingly, we found that overnight temperatures increased far more than temperatures during the day,” said lead author Dr Daniel Argueso.
“This has implications for health problems related to heat stress accumulation and at an economic level where the higher energy consumption needed to power air conditioning overnight may lead to higher power bills.”
The urban heat island effect occurs because urban structures can store more heat than open ground. This accumulated heat is released during the night, which is why night-time temperatures increase more than daytime temperatures.
At the same time, urban surfaces hinder evaporation and its cooling effect, adding another layer to the heating of urban areas.
According to the researchers, changes to city planning guidelines could ease the heat impact as adding green spaces, street trees and bodies of water can help reduce the urban heat island effect.
While this research focused on Sydney, it holds lessons for cities 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.
The article can be found at: Argueso et al. (2013) Temperature Response To Future Urbanization And Climate Change.
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