AUSTRALIA is already known for its sweltering temperatures – but the continent could get even hotter, experts have warned.
The mercury in both Sydney and Melbourne cities have been predicted to hit 50degrees Celsius in summer heatwaves by 2040, even if climate change goals are hit.
The study found that even if rising global warming temperatures were contained to the Paris Agreement’s ambitious target of 1.5C and 2C, Aussie summer temperatures would still soar.
Climate scientist Dr Sophie Lewis, of the Australian National University (ANU), warned: “One of the hottest years on record globally – in 2015 – could be an average year by 2025.”
And while some might look forward to more beach days, the increasing temperatures will cause problems – with Dr Lewis saying: “Major Australian cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne, may experience unprecedented temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius under 2 degrees of global warming.
“The increase in Australian summer temperatures indicates that other major cities should also be prepared for unprecedented future extreme heat.”
The study was based on observational data from Sydney and Melbourne, taking into account simulated climate models.
Problems could include how to better prepare hospitals for admissions of young and old affected by the heat, as well as how to send children to school on the sweltering days.
City transport could also be faced with heat-related issues, with it taking longer for the roads and buildings to cool down.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney Jess Miller told ABC: “When you’ve got grey infrastructure and roads and buildings absorbing all that heat, not only does it get much hotter, but it takes twice to three times as long to cool down.”
Dr Lewis said that one of the best ways to tackle the extreme temperatures was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The research, supported by the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, is published in Geophysical Research Letters.