Heatwatch: extreme heat in the Sunshine Coast

Global warming Weather Extreme weather events Sunshine Coast

The combination of projected rises in extreme heat as a result of global warming and the high levels of humidity in the Sunshine Coast present a serious risk to the health and wellbeing of the region’s population.

The Sunshine Coast has historically experienced a relatively pleasant climate with only around two to four days over 35 degrees per year. However, the amount of these extreme heat days could increase nearly tenfold up to a projected 32 days over 35 by 2090.

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 agencies.

Over the last year there were 94 days - concentrated in summer - with a relative humidity of 70% or above and 44 days over 80% or above at 3pm in the Sunshine Coast Combined with 70% humidity, conditions over 35 degrees are considered “dangerous” by government agencies such as the US Government National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Temperatures of 35 degrees combined with 80% humidity is considered “extremely dangerous”.

Alarmingly, CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) projections show that unless emissions are decisively reduced, well over half of summer nights could be over 25 degrees by 2090 in the Sunshine Coast from an average of just one summer night over 25 now. Nights where the minimum temperature does not fall below 25 degrees are considered an extreme temperature threshold and can have serious health impacts.

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