Dramatic increases on extreme heat forecast for Roma region

The number of days over 40 degrees could increase almost tenfold in the Roma region by 2050 in the absence of strong policy response to climate change, according to new research from The Australia Institute. The analysis is based on Bureau of Meteorology data and CSIRO climate projections.

The Australia Institute’s HeatWatch initiative shows that days over 40 degrees in Roma could increase from historic levels of 4 days per year to up to 20 days by 2030 and continue to rise to as many as 80 days per year by 2090.

The report also finds a dramatic increase in overnight temperatures. Minimum overnight temperatures above 25 degrees are projected to rise from historic levels of around 3 nights per year to up to 60 nights per year towards the end of the century. Nights with minimums over 25 degrees are considered extreme and damaging to human health.

“Increases in extreme heat can cause serious illness including heat stroke, organ damage especially to the heart, which can be fatal,” says Melissa Haswell, public health expert & Professor from Queensland University of Technology.

“Our ability to acclimatise to heat extremes is limited, and the level of increases being projected for Roma as a result of global warming is very concerning.”

“Farming is by far the biggest employer in the region. These kinds of temperature rises would be devastating for agriculture and the well-being of our community,” says Bloss Hickson, local Rolleston farmer.

“If emissions continue to rise, it will have a devastating impact on the region,” says Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor at The Australia Institute and author of the report.

“The great news is that it is not inevitable. We know that if we reduce emissions these increases in extreme heat can be for the most part avoided.

“Better still, strong climate policies would also create huge economic opportunities for such a solar rich region. There are also enormous opportunities to sequester carbon. We can do our bit to help solve the problem and create jobs at the same time.”

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