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A huge difference to people’s thermal comfort:


Experts suggest tricks for householders to minimise summer heat.

SOME PARTS OF Australia are sweltering as a heatwave moves from Adelaide across to the east coast.

The City of Churches is no stranger to heatwaves.

In February 2017, the city experienced temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius for three consecutive days. At night, temperatures didn’t drop below 30 degrees.

Michelle Leishman and colleagues at Macquarie University analysed images collected during the heatwave as part of a heat-mapping project of West Adelaide.

This is what the suburb of Mansfield Park looked like.

Day. Scale: White (25 C) > Dark red (50+ C)
Night. Supplied: Alessandro Ossola/Macquarie University, AdaptWest, Airborne Research Australia.

The analysis of the AdaptWest images highlighted the stark differences between urban (dark red) and vegetated areas (blue and purple).

In the heat of the day, roads and roofs reached up to 50 degrees.

During the night, bitumen roads continued to radiate heat.

This effect, known as the urban heat island, is well known. And Adelaide is not alone.

On January 4 last year, a temperature of 48.9 degrees C was recorded at Penrith in Sydney’s west, making it the hottest place on Earth that day.

Both cities experienced severe storms either before or after the heatwaves.

Heatwaves and severe storms are features of the Australian summer, but as the climate warms, hot spells and heavy rainfall are predicted to become more frequent and more intense.

Here are some key changes you can make to your home that could help you weather the highs and lows of summer — and even save you some money.

Plant trees in your garden

While the buildings baked in Mansfield Park, large trees and grassy expanses reduced temperatures by between 5 and 6 degrees during the heatwave.

“If you think about the difference between 32 and 39 degrees, that makes a huge difference to people’s thermal comfort,” Professor Leishman says.

In West Adelaide, people’s gardens covered about 20 percent of the land, but they contained more than 40 percent of the total tree cover.

While many government and city councils have urban greening programs, Professor Leishman says the focus is on public land such as parks, gardens and street trees. But expanding green areas in backyards could make a big difference to the heat island effect.

“Gardens are critically important to maintain and expand those urban forests and the benefits they provide, but there’s very little concentration on gardens,” Professor Leishman says.

“We can do a lot in our own backyard in terms of planting trees and keeping it green instead of concreting driveways.”

By Genelle Weule, ABC Science.

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