Heatwatch: Extreme heat in the Gold Coast

by Mark Ogge and Travis Hughes

The combination of the projected rise in extreme heat as a result of global warming and the high levels of humidity at the Gold Coast present a serious risk to the health and wellbeing of the region’s population.

The Gold Coast has historically experienced a relatively pleasant climate with only around one day over 35 degrees per year. However, the amount of these extreme heat days could increase up to a projected 34 days by 2090. 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 agencies.

Over the last year there were 120 days with a relative humidity of 70% or above and 59 days over 80% at 3pm at the Gold Coast. Combined with 70% humidity, conditions over 35 degrees are considered ‘dangerous’ by government agencies such as the US Government National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Temperatures of 35 degrees combined with 80% humidity are considered “extremely dangerous”. Alarmingly, CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) projections show that unless emissions are substantially reduced, up to nearly half of summer nights could be over 25 degrees by 2090 in the Gold Coast, up from just one night per year now. Nights where the minimum temperature does not fall below 25 degrees are considered an extreme temperature threshold and can have serious health and societal impacts.


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