A spatial vulnerability analysis of urban populations during extreme heat events in Australian capital cities
Margaret E Loughnan, Nigel J Tapper, Thu Phan, Kellie Lynch, Judith A MicInnes
This study identified threshold temperatures for all Australian capital cities, developed a spatial index of population vulnerability, and used climate model output to predict changes in the number of days exceeding temperature thresholds in the future, as well as changes in risk related to changes in urban density and an ageing population.
The study has shown that daily maximum and minimum temperatures from the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts can be used to calculate temperature thresholds for heat alert days. The key risk factors related to adverse health outcomes were found to be areas with intense urban heat islands, areas with higher proportions of older people, and areas with ethnic communities.
Maps of spatial vulnerability have been developed to provide information to assist emergency managers, healthcare professionals, and ancillary services develop heatwave preparedness plans at a local scale that target vulnerable groups and address heat-related health risks. The numbers of days exceeding current heat thresholds are predicted to increase over the next 20 to 40 years in all Australian capital cities.