Half-a-dozen strategies are effective for cooling urban areas. Used in combination, these strategies can drop the temperature even more.
At the peak of a summer heatwave in Adelaide, an aerial survey of land surface temperatures reveals just how much cooler neighbourhoods with good tree and vegetation cover can be.
Inner Melbourne alone has lost 2,000 street trees to major developments within a decade. Losing tree cover makes it even more difficult for our cities to cope with an increasingly tough climate.
Air conditioning isn't the answer for everyone, especially for residents of the less affluent – and often hotter – suburbs of our big cities. But there are other ways to make hot days more bearable.
Trees and the shade they provide are one of the best ways of cooling cities. But they also present challenges that are best resolved by managing this shared resource as part of an urban commons.
The world's fastest-growing cities are in the tropics. They are highly exposed to climate change, especially as urban heat island effects and humidity magnify the impacts of increasing heatwaves.
The research has been done. The evidence is in. We know how to create cities that are sustainable, liveable and affordable. But we have yet to apply that knowledge widely across Australian cities.
Thirty tree species make up more than half of Australia's urban forests. Some won't survive climate change, so cities must plant a more diverse mix of the right species to preserve their tree cover.
Good urban design and walkability boost local economic activity by increasing public activity, but cities need to pay more attention to the effects of microclimates on streets and public spaces.
Not all of the solutions to the climate and ecological crisis have to be painful.
Two trends in Australia, an ageing population and warming climate, are increasing the threat that heatwaves pose to our health. Increasing vegetation cover is one way every city can reduce the risk.
Darwin's climate is getting even hotter and it's one of the main reasons people leave the city. A lot more can be done, though, to make our tropical cities safe, cool and enjoyable.
Faced with a drought, it's tempting for cities to reduce the amount of space that needs water. But this is not a good idea.
How to move beyond the warm words about tackling urban heat islands to doing something about them.
Behind the built-up glitz of Surfers Paradise lies a deep history that has been written and overwritten in successive layers that have become thinner and thinner as time goes on.
Commonly used surfaces in play areas, such as "soft fall" materials and Astroturf, can heat up to 80-100°C in the sun. This makes them a hazardous design choice, especially as the climate gets hotter.
Australians are losing the backyards that once served as retreats from the stresses of city living. Our health is likely to suffer as cities become less green and much hotter.
Extreme heat divides people from the environment and from each other. So with the rapid densification of our cities, what kind of legacies are we building for future generations?
Greening cities that are becoming denser is a major challenge. City-dwellers' health benefits from both well-designed green spaces and urban density, so we must manage the tensions between them.
Do you ever feel that the weather is worse on the weekend? Well you might be right!