Articles on Urban heat

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Even without air conditioning, there are still many things you can do to prepare for extreme heat and stay comfortable on hot days. fizkes/Shutterstock

How to cope with extreme heat days without racking up the aircon bills

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.
Where’s the shade? Trees are not an immediate or whole answer to keeping cool. Cameron Tonkinwise

Keeping the city cool isn’t just about tree cover – it calls for a commons-based climate response

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.
During a heatwave in late 2018, Cairns temperatures topped 35°C nine days in a row and sensors at some points in the CBD recorded 45°C.

Urban growth, heat islands, humidity, climate change: the costs multiply in tropical cities

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.
Increasing heat in Sydney and other Australian cities highlights the urgent need to apply our knowledge of how to create liveable low-carbon cities. Taras Vyshnya/Shutterstock

We have the blueprint for liveable, low-carbon cities. We just need to use it

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.
Australian cities could lose some of their most common trees to climate change. Jamen Percy/Shutterstock

Our cities need more trees, but some commonly planted ones won’t survive climate change

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.
Cairns Lagoon: as a good response to the tropical climate, it’s a very active place but with little business activity. Silvia Tavares

City temperatures and city economics, a hidden relationship between sun and wind and profits

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.
A shade tree makes a big difference to the comfort of this couple. Nancie Lee/Shutterstock

How do we save ageing Australians from the heat? Greening our cities is a good start

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.
The familiar images of high-rise development, looking north here from Surfers Paradise, tell only one part of the story of the Gold Coast. Andrew Leach

Looking past the Gold Coast the world sees today

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.
‘Soft fall’ surfaces are widely used in play areas where children might fall, but can also get very hot in the sun, which undermines this safety benefit. Brisbane City Council/Flickr

Materials that make heat worse for our kids demand a rethink by designers

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.
Whether it’s pressures of space or a warmer climate, which is affecting Melbourne’s elms, urban greening must respond to the challenges of 21st-century urban living. Joe Castro/AAP

Higher-density cities need greening to stay healthy and liveable

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.

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