At temperatures above 35 degrees the human body’s ability to cool itself reduces, making it a common benchmark temperature for occupational health and safety experts, academic and government researchers. Combined with 70% humidity, conditions over 35 degrees are considered ‘extremely dangerous’ by government agencies such as the US Government National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The number of days over 35 degrees per year in Rockhampton has nearly doubled from an average of 18.1 days per year in the mid-20th century to 31.6 days per year in the last five. Mid-20th century levels will more than triple to a projected 70 days over 35 by 2070. Combined with the humidity of Rockhampton’s summer, more days are seeing dangerous heat levels.