The number of days over 35 degrees has nearly doubled in Rockhampton over recent years, and is forecast to triple again in the absence of strong policy response to climate change, according to new research from The Australia Institute.
The Australia Institute’s Heat Watch initiative shows Rockhampton is expected to endure 29 days over 35 degrees per year by 2030, and as many as 70 days per year by 2070. Almost 50 percent of summer days are projected to reach over 35 degrees by 2070.
“The increase in these extreme heat due to climate change will have a devastating impact on the region,” says Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor at The Australia Institute and author of the report.
“There will be an increase in heat related deaths, agricultural productivity will be hit hard and people’s quality of life will plummet.
“Even more alarming is the combination of increased extreme heat with high humidity levels, which reduces the ability of the human body to cool itself. This represents a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of the Rockhampton community.
“If emissions are drastically reduced, the increase in extreme heat days can be for the most part avoided.
“Given the vulnerability of Rockhampton and the rest of the Queensland to climate change, strong emissions reduction policies are in the state’s interests.”
“Some of the biggest issues we are facing in central Qld are the increased rate of evaporation of water storages and the impact of hot conditions on cattle where vegetation has been over cleared in past years,” says local beef farmer Mick Alexander.
“Climate change is causing extremely hot summers and even unseasonably hot winters are forcing us to rethink paddock layout, tree retention and even man-made shade structures to reduce heat impact on livestock.”