Council’s heat island study a first for eastern Sydney

City of Sydney is conducting a heat island-mapping study with the University of Western Sydney to help it prepare for hotter summers.

Dr Sebastian Pfautsch: urban heat expert

The microclimate research will see 200 specially designed temperature gauges placed in trees across the LGA, which will record temperatures every 10 minutes and provide more than 3 million data points throughout the study. 

Actual air temperature will be measured by 150 loggers, while 50 others will monitor air temperature and relative humidity to gauge the ‘feels like’ temperature.

The loggers will be positioned in areas with varying levels of canopy cover, as well as near infrastructure like roads and buildings, to measure different temperature effects.

 The project’s lead researcher, Dr Sebastian Pfautsch from the Urban Transformations Research Centre at Western Sydney University, has been studying the impacts of summer heat in Western Sydney for years.

But he says this is the first time a local government area in Sydney’s east has been mapped in this way.

 “It is absolutely necessary to begin benchmarking the impacts of heat in the eastern part of the city,” Dr Pfautsch said.

“Without a refined understanding of the urban microclimate, its hotspots and cool zones, workers and local populations are left defenceless when extreme heat strikes.”

He says the question isn’t whether the city centre will ever see 45°C, but how well the city is prepared when the mercury hits new records.

Adapting to climate change

Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the study will help Council prepare and adapt to climate change.

“We are in a climate emergency. This year is on track to be the hottest Australia has ever experienced. Our climate is trending warmer and the weather is becoming more extreme,” she said.

“This important study will identify microclimates and help us understand where we can concentrate the most appropriate heat adaptation actions. 

“It’ll also help us understand what is working already and inform the development of more cooling strategies to help our communities mitigate the worst impacts of rising temperatures.”

The study runs until March 2024 with findings expected to be completed in September 2024.

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One thought on “Council’s heat island study a first for eastern Sydney

  1. Very pleasing to see the City of Sydney taking the initiative on this major strategic issue, but how can other councils be encouraged to also do this research work? From Ryde to Parramatta, Penrith and Campbelltown, there are many suburban areas that are already experiencing extreme heat on multiple days, but have LEP/DCPs and NSW Codes SEPP controls that are based on maximizing the building footprint by allowing dual occupancies and other medium density where single lot subdivision was once the norm, complete with lawn and mature, shady trees. Greater Sydney should have updated and progressive provisions that maximise the space around homes and specify more planting, less paving!

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