Australia Institute report estimated the average number of days with temperatures greater than 35C would increase from a current average of three to 32 by 2090.
Australia Institute report estimated the average number of days with temperatures greater than 35C would increase from a current average of three to 32 by 2090. MarianVejcik

Coast faces future killer heat

INCREASES in extreme heat on the Sunshine Coast would have a profound effect on people, industries and ecosystems, according to a new report to be released today.

The report, by the Australia Institute, relied on CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology projections that estimated the average number of days with temperatures greater than 35C would increase from a current average of three to 32 by 2090.

More than half of summer nights would be above 25C by that time - a level considered dangerous to human health.

The Australia Institute study also found increased urbanisation of coastal areas would exacerbate the problem even though they benefited from cooling sea breezes.

This was due to urban structures like concrete and skyscrapers - along with roads, pavement, and diminished vegetation cover - made cities warmer as heat absorbed in the materials during the day was then released at night, which increases night-time temperatures.

The resultant Urban Heat Island effect impacted not just on those surfaces but also in the atmosphere.

The report said studies had also raised the concern night temperature extremes carried the higher risks of mortality as people were unable to recover from daytime heat stress.

The increase in days and nights of temperature extremes would have severe impacts on human health, including increased rates of heat-related deaths.

"Given the vulnerability of the Sunshine Coast and the rest of the Queensland to climate change, strong emissions reduction policies are in both the region and the state's interests," the report said.

"Increasing gas and coal exports is incompatible with Australia's carbon budget and commitments under the Paris agreement to limit warming to less than two degrees. It has been calculated that two thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground in order to have even a 50% chance of avoiding two degrees of warming."

A recent IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees found that keeping warming below 1.5C would be necessary to avoid many devastating impacts, and that to do so the world would need to reach net zero emissions by 2055 at the latest.