Sydney summers by 2060 could be deadly: scientist

Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:33am EDT
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By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The forecast for Sydney in summer 2060 is hot, polluted and deadly to the elderly.

Rising summer temperatures due to global warming, drier weather and smog from transport and bushfires will make Australia's lifestyle capital a health hazard, a scientist told a major climate change conference on Wednesday.

Most at risk will be the increasing number of elderly from heat stress and anyone with asthma or heart complaints, said Martin Cope of the state-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

"We're talking about tripling the number of hospital admissions due to respiratory conditions," he told Reuters from Perth in Western Australia, which is hosting the Greenhouse 2009 conference.

"There will be more warmer days, more warmer nights and an older population. It's certainly something we want to plan ahead for," he said, adding the picture might not be so grim if Sydneysiders embraced low-carbon lifestyles and industry.

Cope's team at the CSIRO's Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research used computer models to generate urban weather forecasts for Sydney to test the effects of temperature increases of 1 to 4 degrees Celsius over the current annual maximum.

Higher temperatures caused increased heat stress in the elderly but also helped intensify air pollution, he said.

"From the modeling, we were looking at a 20 percent increase in the number of days above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) ... You can be looking at a 100 percent increase of the small number of extreme temperature days," he said, referring to temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius.   Continued...

<p>A woman talks with her friends during a sunny morning at Bondi beach in Sydney, December 30, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>