Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Blacktown joins with university for local heat study

Blacktown City Council is collaborating with Western Sydney University (WSU) to conduct the first comprehensive urban heat monitoring study of the local government area.

Prolonged hot days produce high levels of urban heat which can increase the incidence of illness and death – particularly among older people, and those with a pre-existing medical condition or disability, Council said in a statement.

Many areas of Western Sydney are experiencing rapid development and this combined with geographic conditions often produce summer temperatures of between 10 to 15 degrees higher than areas closer to the coast, it said.

“Our area suffers under some of the highest temperatures in Sydney and combatting urban heat is one of our major environmental challenges,” said Mayor, Tony Bleasdale OAM.

The study will monitor air temperatures across 220 sites in Blacktown City between December 2023 and March 2024.

Reflective cans fitted with temperature sensors (pictured, below) will be installed in trees across Blacktown City as part of the study.

The study will identify hot and cool zones to better understand the urban heat island effect in Blacktown City, the Council said. It will establish the mean, day and night-time air temperature differences for commercial, industrial, residential and natural environments.

WSU’s Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, who is leading the study for Council, said similar studies in other areas of Western Sydney had shown far more extreme heat than measurements from the Bureau of Meteorology.

“The data can be used by Council to scientifically inform and prioritise strategies to tackle rising urban heat,” he said.

“These microclimate benchmarking studies are the most effective approach to future-proof urban design and improve community heat safety.”

Mayor Bleasdale said the City needed accurate heat data from across the City to “make the business case to change the way we build”. 

“Blacktown City is experiencing rapid development, with large areas of bitumen and concrete replacing open, green spaces,” he said.

“The results of the study will support our work to reduce urban heat and develop initiatives to cool our city, including identifying locations for more tree planting.

“It will support Council’s work with the State Government, builders and developers in pushing for more sustainable development and urban greening to reduce the effects of urban heat.”

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