Kimberley Extreme Heat Forecast: Unprecedented Rise of Days Over 40°C

New research shows that the Kimberley region is set to experience a dramatic increase in extreme heat including up to a tenfold increase in days over 40 degrees in Broome if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced in line with the Paris Agreement.  

The report, by the Australia Institute using CSIRO and BoM data, shows the projected increase in extreme heat days for towns like Broome, Derby and Bidyadanga, will have devastating effects on the Kimberley’s Indigenous communities, outdoor workers, industries and ecosystems. 

The report shows that without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 6 days per year to 62 (2 months) by 2090 in Broome.
  • Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 14 days per year to 168 (5.6 months) by 2090 in Derby.
  • Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 10 days per year to 94 (3 months) by 2090 in Bidyadanga; the largest remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia.
  • Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 35 days per year to 204 (6.8 months) by 2090 in Kununurra.

“As things stand, during the lifetime of today’s children in Kununurra, they will have to endure 40°C days for over half the year” says Richie Merzian, Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program Director.

“Extreme heat conditions can have serious health ramifications, especially for the very young and the elderly, including heat stroke and even organ failure which can result in death.

“This will have a devastating impact on tourism. People come to Broome to experience the regions unique natural environment. The temperature increases put the environment at risk, and mean much of the year is too hot for most tourists to enjoy being in the region.

“Also particularly vulnerable to the extreme heat will be miners, construction workers, tourism operators and agricultural workers, who are vital to the Kimberley economy, and often undertake heavy work in already hot conditions that are set to worsen severely.

“The region’s Indigenous population already face disproportionate rates of chronic illness and poverty, increasing extreme heat will mean people’s health will deteriorate further.

“Fortunately these climate projections are not inevitable, if emissions are reduced in line with the Paris Agreement, these increases in heat can be largely avoided.”

Martin Pritchard, Executive Director Environs Kimberley, says “Kimberley residents have just sweltered through one of the region’s hottest months, with temperatures 3.2 degrees above the historical November maximum temperature average, and 7 days above 40 degrees in Broome already this November alone. By 2090, the entire Kimberley region will be experiencing extreme heat of the likes we have not seen in Australia before.

“The Kimberley has one of Australia’s largest shale gas reserves and we now know that we cannot frack it and burn it if we want safe temperatures into the future. It has to stay in the ground if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.”

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