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 researchers. Combined with 70% humidity, conditions over 35 degrees are considered ‘extremely dangerous’ by government agencies such as the US Government National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The number of days over 35 degrees per year in Rockhampton has nearly doubled from an average of 18.1 days per year in the mid-20th century to 31.6 days per year in the last five. Mid-20th Century levels will more than triple to a projected 70 days over 35 by 2070. Combined with the humidity of Rockhampton’s summer, more days are seeing dangerous heat levels.
Alarmingly, CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) projections demonstrate an increase in the frequency of hot days in summer. Without decisive climate action, CSIRO and BoM project about half of summer days will be over 35 degrees by 2070 in Rockhampton.
The impacts of more extreme heat are already being seen globally, with Europe, Russia, India and Pakistan all experiencing heat waves resulting in thousands of deaths.
The implications of such temperature increases need to be considered and a part of the case for climate action. These includes increased severe health impacts and heatrelated deaths. Increased hot days would reduce productivity in important Queensland industries such as agriculture, construction and tourism.
Increased intensity of extreme rainfall events is expected to bring more major flooding of the Fitzroy River and with it more climate risk to the Rockhampton community.