Although heatwave-related excess mortality and morbidity have been widely studied, results are not comparable spatially and often longitudinally because of different heatwave definitions applied. The excess heat factor (EHF) quantifies heatwave intensity relative to the local climate, enabling cross-regional comparisons.
Heatwaves have been subject to significant attention in Australia and globally due to their negative impacts on the ecosystem, infrastructure, human health and social life. Measures to increase resilience to heatwaves, however, are mostly isolated in different disciplines.
As the frequency and intensity of heatwaves are growing in Australia, strategies to combat heat are becoming more vital. Cities are exposed to urban heat islands (UHIs) due to excess urbanisation. In this study, a definition of urban heatwave (UHW) is conceptualised to investigate the combined impacts of heatwaves and UHIs.
The report was undertaken as part of a PhD research, funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living Ltd. supported by the Cooperative Research Centres program, an Australian Government initiative and a research student scholarship granted from the Australian Building Codes Board.
Heatwaves are Australia’s most deadly natural hazard and the principle driver of peak electricity demand in South Australia. The disproportionately high peak demand increases electricity prices, causes occasional blackouts and exacerbates energy poverty, all of which limit the use of air-conditioning.
The frequency and intensity of urban heatwaves (UHWs) have been growing worldwide due to climate change and the exacerbating effects of urban heat islands (UHIEs). UHWs have many negative impacts, including excess negative health outcomes (e.g. morbidity), energy (consumption and peak demand) and water consumption.
In Australia, heatwaves are the deadliest natural hazard and a major driver of peak electricity demand. The disproportionately high peak demand increases electricity prices, causes occasional blackouts and exacerbates energy poverty, all of which limit one’s ability to use air conditioning. Meanwhile, increased energy efficiency of dwellings may decrease their heat stress resistance.
There are calls for changes to the nation's building code to ensure homes are heat stress resistant in summer.
A study has found new 'energy efficient' homes can actually be less resistant to heat than older double-brick homes.
As a result, Australian's are becoming more reliant on air-conditioning, driving up power prices and putting people's health at risk.